“Thou art Dust and Unto Dust Thou Shalt Return.”

One of the up sides of growing up with crazy alcoholics,

for me,

was the need to believe in something.

The Mystical God of the pre Vatican II church was my anchor.

My God became a very large God over the decades, after much study of the worlds religions.

My God IS the same God of my youth and has become the same God of every believer. God takes the form  of many things to many people. I am grateful for this. I believe that God is too large to be confined by one book, one set or rules, one people.

God is God.

Today is Ash Wednesday.  This day begins the 40-day period of purification and renewal that comes before Easter.

As a child I was in awe of the ritual, the mystery surrounding this time in the Church.

My son and I will be present for the mass; we will watch an ancient ritual take place and we will take part. The ashes used in the Ash Wednesday ritual are made by burning the palm fronds blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year.

Before the ashes are used, they are sprinkled with holy water, purified with incense and

blessed with four ancient prayers.

    This is a very Pagan ritual. I love that. I always have.

My mother translated for me what Lent meant to her;

a time to renew vows you make to yourself.

She did not talk much of God.

I looked to God.

I see it this way; Lent is a time set aside in my life in which I have a clear-cut template for growing closer to my God. I will make sacrifices and I will ask my God to help me make them. Through meditation and prayer I will be reminded that I am not alone, that I am  part of something larger and more grand than I am aware of in my day-to-day life.  I will remember that I can  surrender; that I can  relax and know that all will be well.

Lent is a time for me to go inside and contemplate my life and the choices I make.

Lent is a time of renewal of vows I make to myself, to my God and to the world.

Lent is a time for asking questions;

How am I to live? Who am I to be?

Each and every day IS this season. It is too easy to forget this. Lent reminds me.

I will leave mass today with the sign of the cross in ash on my forehead.

I will be reminded,

“Thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”

We are here for a short time.

We have one chance to make something of meaning and Joy during our time on Earth. Ash Wednesday is a very special day to me; to all of me. The Lenten season calls me from some deep ancestral pull. The women in my family on my mother’s side going back as far as I can find, were Catholic. They are calling me always

to be a Stronger Woman and  a Better Self.

  I am grateful to them for calling me to the altar,

for leading me back to my God and to my Center.

I do not know where Mommy is now.

I do not know that I believe in Heaven or reincarnation.

I do know that the Soul exists,

as I felt it leave the body of  a man I loved upon his death.

I KNOW the soul is the soul.

Where Mommy is;

I do not know.

I will take the memory of her with me today to mass.

I will ask my God during the Lenten season to help me continue my journey of understanding.

  Who was my mother?

Why did she do the things she did?

How do I continue to forgive her?

Who do you need me to be in this?

 Why do we, any of us, do the things we do and how can we make better choices?

I will leave mass today with the sign of the cross in ash on my forehead.

I will leave walking towards my God.

I will run this Lenten season;

towards my God,

towards wholeness and healing.

Wish me luck.

Another journey, another path.

Thank God for that.

Peace, Jen

~ by Step On a Crack on February 22, 2012.

30 Responses to ““Thou art Dust and Unto Dust Thou Shalt Return.””

  1. I wish you the best this Lenten season.


  2. Wholeness, period. That’s all. That’s it. xo mel


  3. As soon as we leave our mothers womb, the cord is severed.
    I have spent a lifetime trying to emotionally re-attach with my Mother since I was a small child.
    I feel your pain my friend and I understand that longing to know all the answers. I discovered that the answers to my anguish eventually came to me from an acceptance of the now. I know that sounds all Eckhart Tolle and stuff but its just me. It’s the way I understand my own life. You will one day come to that realization and understanding of your Mother and it will take time. Be easy on yourself and realize that although she didn’t give you what you need, you are extremely loved. ❤


    • Val, Thank you for the wise words! You are right. I think back to times in my life when I had a steady meditation practice; during those years this stuff just fell away. I did not ignore it, it just didn’t have the power over me it does now.

      You are dead on. I love Tolle by the way.

      Thank you for giving me perspective; sometimes that is what I need.

      XO. Jen


  4. Beautiful, Jen. In word and heart beautiful!


  5. Dear Jen,

    You covered much here which I find interesting and believe in. One part:

    “I believe that God is too large to be confined by one book, one set of rules, one people.”

    How very true and yet men in robes claim exactly that…one book, one set of rules…

    Peace and luv, Eric


    • Eric,

      Yes sir. I Was very fortunate to grow up with the church but not of the church. My mom was a social justice Catholic and feisty. My dad was a history buff. The crusades were a part of my life, the horrible things done in the name of god that were really all about power and land. Popes were/are generally power mongers (I did respect much of what John Paul did…)

      I am grateful for the mystical nature of the church I grew up in; Latin mass! I miss it. We did not discuss God, we FELT God.

      I do Buddhist meditation, I follow and celebrate the moon cycles. My mother did a great job of letting me find my path.

      ‘ cafeteria Catholic’? You betcha! Big time. I have always been drawn to the intellectual priests who understand that the bible is part ‘word of God’ translated through man and part history. The bible has been used to do so much harm. Mind boggling to me.

      I love the new testament and the lost gospels too. I also respect that other traditions also had prophets. Yes. They do. Jesus was a great teacher. So was the Buddha.

      My mom when I was little would encourage me to keep my Ideas to my self at church. I am glad she did.

      Intellectual inquiry must be part of my Faith Walk. Period.

      Thank you for your very important and insightful comment. This is crucial stuff….

      Peace, Jen


  6. You ask for luck to be sent your way-well you got it sister!
    I’ve never observed Lent, but when you describe it, pagan like, I’m intrigued. Peace be with you for the next 39 days. And always.


    • I am a pagan in heart and in practice. The Catholic church is the only christian church I could attend. So much of the Catholic tradition was directly stolen from the pagans as a way to co opt them into the new religion,

      Margot Adler, the NPR woman, is a pagan and has written a beautiful book Drawing Down The Moon, which is a history of the Goddess traditions. She lays down how the church systematically tried to destroy the Old Ways. I highly recommend it!

      Easter is a great example. It is always the first Sunday after the full moon after the spring Equinox. The Spring equinox in pagan tradition is called Ostara. Ostara is a celebration of the planting, of rebirth REBIRTH of the plants of the Earth after the Winter nap.

      See! Co opt the pagans, get rid of the Wise Women; usually the spiritual leaders in the villages.

      The crusades are a horrible horrible story of power the the greed for land run amok. Forget conversion; it was about control and land.

      SO I am a Catholic Pagan (an oxymoron perhaps? there are an awful lot of Christian sects who think so…) attending mass. My priests always know this ( I choose liberal intellectual parishes obviously) my kid knows this.

      Wise Women traditions call me and the mass is built around the Old Ways. Mary is always present in every church; she is always on the left side of the altar. Growing up we ALWAYS sat on the left side. Still do. So many of the traditions of the church have deep roots in the Goddess traditions, I love that…

      peace to you my Warrior Woman Friend!


      My mom made some HUGE mistakes but she gave me a gift beyond measure ” Mary is Divine too”. Women are divine.


      • that is a lot of information! I will try to get a copy of the book Drawing Down The Moon-I love the title. Thanks.


      • Sorry! I tend to go off on this stuff. It is Fascinating to me. Drawing Down the Moon is a ritual celebrated by pagans; you draw down the power of the full moon into yourself and your heart. It is a beautiful ritual.


    • Not painting




  7. Wishing you luck and love and everything you need.


  8. Jen- My prayers are with you as you follow your heart’s intention:

    Lent is a time for me to go inside and contemplate my life and the choices I make.

    Lent is a time of renewal of vows I make to myself, to my God and to the world.

    Lent is a time for asking questions;

    How am I to live? Who am I to be?



  9. ‘Each and every day IS this season. It is too easy to forget this.’ For me, too.
    On my odd journey from Evangelical to Episcopal, I learned to love the sword drills and the mysteries. Both add greatly to a contemplative way of living and being. I can see no reason to choose one at the expense of the other.
    One of the rich gifts of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey was the value the Sisters gave/give to the interior life. Something, quite honestly, pretty foreign to me 15 years ago, and something they shared that I now treasure.
    Peace and grace and love to you on this journey, dear Jen,


    • Dear Debbie,

      I am grateful to have been born into this. I don’t know if my intellect would have allowed for it honestly. My Brain is not my Buddy; my Heart is.

      I wanted to be a nun for most of my childhood. I often wonder if that is where I will still end up. Think they will let me play the Sex Pistols still? I will use earphones….

      Really I still want to be a nun. Maybe I want to be Of Use. That is probably the nut of it.

      I recently found out that you can join the Peace Corps as an older woman. There is a woman in her 80’s overseas.

      We have a parish church in our neighborhood where cloistered nuns live. Their mission is to pray for Peace all day every day. I sometimes sit out in my backyard and imagine that I can feel them praying without stop….

      that makes me VERY happy…

      XO Jen


  10. I LOVED your post. I have so many thoughts running through my head and to read what you are thinking only makes me realize how little I really understand about my life and my God. I pray for you on this journey and may you find Joy in your God.


    • Thank you for being here! I am happy you found something in the post. I figure it this way: we all know our God, we do. Understanding may not be necessary. Thank you for your prayers, they mean a lot to me.

      By the way, not a day goes by when I do not think of you. You are a remarkable woman. You inspire me.

      XO Jen


  11. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, except by me.”


  12. May luck and persistence guide you on your path. I know you’ll make it! Traveling mercies, my friend. XO


  13. Reblogged this on Step On A Crack…Or Break Your Mother's Back and commented:

    Another year, another circle.
    This year I will attend the Ash Wednesday service with my son and over 1000 boys in the gym of his Jesuit high school. The circle rounds and change is the only constant.
    A son, a mother, an ancient ritual and a deep blue sky. How many days have passed just like this one? How many days over thousands of years have mothers and sons celebrated under deep blue skies?

    The ancestors call me from somewhere bone deep today. My mother and her mother and her mothers mother…

    It doesn’t matter how we worship. It doesn’t matter what prayer leaves our lips. We are under the same sky, all of us the whole world over wanting only Peace and Safety and the warmth of a human embrace and connection.

    I can see the mountains from my sons school.
    I can see forever from where I sit right now, this moment. I can see forever.

    Peace, Jen
    I am re-posting my blog from last year. It explains a bit about Ash Wednesday.

    I hope your day is one of warm embrace, connection and answered prayers.


  14. A mother is a mother no matter what kind of mother. I think of all these issues and the clearest understanding I have of why people do the things they do (including me) is based mainly on the billions of chemicals each body and mind are made of. Only certain chemistry do we understand, hence there is so much left unknown. We just don’t have answers, but I see you are finding some good in a horrible situation.

    As you go to church with your son, you are remembering your mother and father. Remember those days of white gloves and hats in church or was that long before your time? No one would go to church without a hat? Now, those are silly memories but they are childhood memories.

    It’s interesting children perceive things very differently than adults. That is a benefit of having siblings, but even siblings don’t perceive the same events in a way that matches. Perceptions are so different, like every human.

    I’ve told my children I’m far from perfect, but I’ll be the perfect grandparent! I accept what they say and how they feel. I can’t change these things because they simply perceive them in their own right. If we listen to our children and clarify our intentions we haven’t continued the path of abuse as was our upbringing. You are a role model for so many.

    I will pray for you as you travel this difficult journey. You have helped so many people along your path. Thank you Jen for helping. Take care and stay safe, Edie


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