MEMENTO HOMO, QUIA PULVIS EST ET IN PULVEREM REVERTERIS.
Just as there are Baptist churches on every corner in the southeast, here, in the northeast, the beautiful spires of Catholic churches reach from the horizon toward the heavens. Sandy and I now live in an area where the religious are predominantly Catholic. Wednesday, February 25, Ash Wednesday, marked the beginning of the 40-day Lenten observation of devout Catholics.
At Planet Fitness, I met dozens of people, both young and old, with the black smudge of the ashes of burned palm branches on their forehead -- some still retained the blurred image of the Cross.
Prior to the arrival of Ash Wednesday, I had taken time to reacquaint myself with this tradition observed by most of my good neighbors. As a rule, Baptists, do not recognize Ash Wednesday, so we can be pretty clueless about the spiritual rhythms of people, who, like us, are seeking a connection with God.
Also, I have learned to avoid trying to dazzle people with one-sided conversations. It finally dawned on me a few years ago that monologues do not really connect people with each other. God constantly intersects our lives with fellow humans of a diverse cultural and spiritual background, and I don't want to miss the opportunities to swap stories with with other sojourners. It has become increasingly more important to me to be able to dialogue with my world. I have many new friends in my life -- who are not in the Baptist church -- where I am the lead pastor.
O, I almost forgot. Let's get back to that Latin phrase . . .
MEMENTO HOMO, QUIA PULVIS EST ET IN PULVEREM REVERTERIS
It is closely connected with the tradition of Ash Wednesday. If we translate the phrase back into English we find that it is a verse from the Bible . . . Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19)
Ash Wednesday . . . a reminder . . . all of us are dust . . . all of us will return to dust . . . then what?