On dust.

Nancy and I were out of town for a couple days, staying, as we often do, at the Potawatomi Inn. It’s the lodge at an Indiana state park. We were sitting in the wide hallway that runs along one side of the building. The lake-facing wall is mostly glass, allowing a view of the birds that come to the feeders four feet or so away. The lake was frozen, the lawn that led to it was covered with snow. The birds were busy.

I was proofing the appendix of my Lent Reader. That section is a hard section. It tells the story of the Lent I gave up coffee, passed my doctoral dissertation defense, and found out that the baby Nancy was carrying had a genetic disorder that would, ultimately, take the baby’s life.

I looked up at the frozen lake. I needed a moment to think. And I heard the instrumental music playing in the hallway.

My memory of the seventies filled in the lyrics:

I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind (“Dust in the Wind”, Kerry Livgren)

There is an irony. Hearing “Dust in the Wind” while editing a book for a season that starts on Ash Wednesday. And it is tempting to push the book away, to set the dreams aside. Because if they are dust, why bother?

But then I keep digging. I come across a more redeeming view of dust:

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14)

Perhaps we tell stories of dreams broken and hope restored to encourage fragile hearts, with no more strength than dust, but far greater value.


Lent For Non-Lent People is now available in paperback. And Ash Wednesday is March 5.

4 thoughts on “On dust.

  1. Anonymous

    Maybe in heaven we’ll have time and opportunity to hear all of each other’s stories that ultimately tell of God’s faithfulness even though they weren’t always fun to go through…


    1. Jon Swanson

      sometimes I think about story-telling times. You know, when you have a lot of time and can let each person talk, and can ask questions? And then you begin to see threads connecting this story with that, this person with that? And there’s plenty of coffee and you get more comfortable with each other all the time? And then you wish you could keep going, but you have to leave?

      What if you never had to leave and could keep exploring as long as you wanted?

      Like that.


  2. Joseph Ruiz (@SMSJOE)

    I just wrote in my journal ~ Jon is telling a story about preparing for Lent. He is a great story teller. His stories are vivid, personal, and inspiring. Thanks for sharing those things that shape. I am so sorry for the loss and price you described. Grace and Peace.


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