The Return to Dust

My husband and I became first time homeowners last year, and since then, we have been finding more and more minor and major issues that need to be addressed. Now that I have the care of a sixty year old house, I realize more and more how everything physical returns to dust.

A house requires constant maintenance, and if it is not taken care of, it slowly falls apart. The author of Ecclesiastes reminds us continually, “All is vanity,” and he does not mean vanity in terms of one’s appearance or one’s possessions, but that everything will come to an end, that all things will return to dust, that it is all fleeting.

In the reading for today we hear this,

“Man goes to his eternal home, and mourners go about the streets… and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:5,7)

We are to remember that while all of our earthly possessions and our bodies will pass away, it is our eternal soul that we are called to maintain. We must make major and minor “repairs” to our souls. This is not a vanity. And while we toil under the sun, our taking joy in our toil and accepting our duties happily prepares us for Heaven. All we have now is a vanity, but what we do now prepares us for the everlasting.

In a day with readings that remind us of Ash Wednesday, let us take time to remember that penance and the submission of our lives to God’s will is not just for Lent, but it is a year round and life-long process amidst the fleeting things of our lives. Let us offer our toils this day and all days as a prayer so that our actions can become redemptive for ourselves and others.


Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls and her dear husband. You can find out more about her here.

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