From the dust

Memento, homo, quod pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.
Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.

I am lack­ing inspi­ra­tion in this week that is ded­i­cat­ed to unpack­ing box­es and fix the paper­work. Luck­i­ly, one of the things that came out of the box­es were our books. Think­ing about the for­mu­la that goes with Ash Wednes­day, I col­lect­ed some excerpts.

fawkes200Har­ry was just think­ing that all he need­ed was for Dumbledore’s pet bird to die while he was alone in the office with it, when the bird burst into flames.
Har­ry yelled in shock and backed away into the desk. He looked fever­ish­ly around in case there was a glass of water some­where, but couldn’t see one. The bird, mean­while, had become a fire­ball; it gave one loud shriek and next sec­ond there was noth­ing but a smoul­der­ing pile of ash on the floor.

J.K. Rowl­ing, Har­ry Pot­ter and the Cham­ber of Secrets

shakespeareBecause they are so long-lived, atoms real­ly get around. Every atom you pos­sess has almost cer­tain­ly passed through sev­er­al stars and been part of mil­lions of organ­isms on its way to becom­ing you.

We are each so atom­i­cal­ly numer­ous and so vig­or­ous­ly recy­cled at death that a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of our atoms — up to a bil­lion for each of us, it has been sug­gest­ed — prob­a­bly once belonged to Shake­speare. A bil­lion more each came from Bud­dha and Genghis Khan and Beethoven, and any oth­er his­tor­i­cal fig­ure you care to name. (The per­son­ages have to be his­tor­i­cal, appar­ent­ly, as it takes the atoms some decades to become through­ly redis­trib­uted; how­ev­er much you may wish it, you are not yet one with Elvis Pres­ley.)

So we are all rein­car­na­tions — through short-lived ones. When we die, our atoms will dis­as­sem­ble and move off to find new uses else­where — as part of a leaf or oth­er human being or drop of dew.

Bill Bryson, A Short His­to­ry of Near­ly Every­thing

meeuwThe phoenix goes up in flames and is born again from its ash­es; an image fre­quent­ly used by the first Chris­tians to rep­re­sent the res­ur­rec­tion. A new begin­ning:

Once again Lent comes to make its prophet­ic appeal, to remind us that it is pos­si­ble to real­ize some­thing new with­in our­selves and around us, sim­ply because God is faith­ful, con­tin­ues to be full of good­ness and mer­cy, and is always ready to for­give and start over from scratch. With this fil­ial con­fi­dence, let us set out on our way!

Homi­ly (ser­mon) of pope Fran­cis tonight