By Carrie Lockhert
I remember during Lent last year how I sat in the pew listening to the sermon about how we are dust and we will return to dust and I remember I felt myself rebelling. The entire congregation lined up to receive a cross of ashes on their forehead and I sat, immobile as the procession filed past me. I simply could not reconcile the words “I am dust.”
“I am not dust…we are not dust!,” I shouted in my mind.
I am a spiritual being inhabiting a human body. We all are.
I am not my body. I am a spiritual being, a child of God. And yet I am on this material plane – at least for this lifetime. So I need to better understand and manage the limitations that being human bind me to.
Temptation toward shiny trinkets, luxurious foods, intoxicating beverages or in my case shoes; all play a role.
American’s especially are consummate consumers, forever “tempted” to try and buy the next best electronic gadget, wear the latest fashion, drive the hottest car or entertain in the most decadent home. Many of us have a propensity to try and “keep up with the Jones’s”…or put another way, we have a weakness toward coveting our neighbor or maybe just their shoes among other things.
Jesus entered the desert for 40 days and nights and was tempted by Satan three times. He was offered all the trinkets of the world, the gadgets, the power…probably even more than the Jones’s home and certainly far more shoes than he could possibly wear. He turned the offer down.
Easy answer: because he is the Son of God…he didn’t need this stuff!
Yes, but at the time he was human and in a human body. He was tired, cold, hungry and alone.
But he wasn’t alone because he felt God. God was inside of him and God filled him.
Even as a human, he knew the trinkets and gadgets, and shoes would not fill the space that only God could and that is what he came here to tell us.
Lent is about relinquishing our human fascination and need to fill our void with material things and maintain a vigil of 40 days and nights of awareness.
For some this may mean giving up chocolate, for others it may require a hiatus from Zappos.
Regardless, the call is to renounce the material in favor of the spiritual because in the end we are all dust.
Join SpokaneFAVS for a discussion on “Faith and Consumerism” at its next Coffee Talk at 10 a.m., Dec. 6 at Indaba Coffee/The Book Parlor. Lockhert is a panelist.
Carrie Lockhert, a multi-generational Spokane native, earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in English with an emphasis in writing during an era when white-out was purchased in bulk and privilege could be assessed by ownership of an electric typewriter vs. a manual one. Two decades, two marriages, three kids and multiple jobs later she thanked both God and human fortitude for the evolutionary shift in online education options that were afforded through the “computer age” by obtaining her graduate degree in Higher Education Administration online through Northeastern University in Boston. She truly is a bi-coastal Husky.
While Lockhert has spent her professional career in marketing, advertising and higher education enrollment services she finds herself continually called to speak what others may feel prohibited in articulating. Her self-deprecating candor and transparency about her life and spiritual path is one that many find either intimidating or inspiring. Under the guidance of her spiritual director, the Rev. Kristi Philip, Lockhert joined her love for writing with her desire to focus on human commonality in contrast to human differences by starting a blog, InspirationCrossing.com. As an Episcopalian, Lockhert appreciates the value of differing perspectives and encourages others to dialogue on their various viewpoints, ultimately believing that all are connected and one, whether Christian, Jew, Buddhist or atheist.
Lockhert endeavors to provide her readers with a real-life, and at times raw perspective, of viewing and incorporating fundamental spiritual principles into daily life challenges and fortune — even if through the disclosure of her own personal failure.
In a few weeks, our congregation will host a movie night featuring one of my absolute favorites, Babette’s Feast. It is a renunciation of renouncing, in a way. An affirmation that God’s love for us comes in material form, in-carne.
I think, in order to restore a right balance between fasting and feasting, between joy in creation and over-indulgence, we ought to approach Lent (and Advent) as seasons and disciplines kept by community. Fasting in the late winter months has practical meaning: the storehouses of food go farther when we of us takes less. We all make it to spring.
How might Christians encounter the material world, even things we purchase, with an eye to its role in community?
I would be interested in knowing the exact words used in the Lenten liturgy that you found disturbing. In our tradition we use “From dust were you made and to dust you shall return.” For me this reminds us that God creates us from the earth and and breathes God’s very own spirit/breath into us and we become spiritual beings. And in the end, we return to the source of our being: our bodies return to dust and our spirits return to their spiritual source – God.