It's Ash Wednesday. A time to remember that we have come from ashes and we will return to ashes (Genesis 3:19). Seems kind of somber. But it can also be a time to celebrate our connection to the sacredness of ashes - sacredness of dirt - sacredness of earth. This can be an occasion to remind ourselves of the connection we have with God's "very good" Creation (Genesis 1:31). And this world is not just "very good," but it's also made sacred because it's filled with the presence of God (Psalm 139:7-10). The early Celtic Christian forefather, Pelagius, writes powerfully about the sacredness of the earth:
"Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the tiny insect crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them. There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent...When God pronounced that his creation was good, it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature; it was that his breath had brought every creature to life. Look too at the great trees of the forest; look at the wild flowers and the grass in the fields; look even at your crops. God’s spirit is present within all plants as well. The presence of God’s spirit in all living things is what makes them beautiful; and if we look with God’s eyes, nothing on the earth is ugly."
The earth is truey good, sacred, and beautiful. And the earth is where we come from and where we will return. That is what we are reminded of on this day of ashes. We are ashy and earthy and holy. Our lives as humans are originated from, and progressing toword, the goodness, sacedness, and beauty of God's earth.
Carl McMolman ephesizes this understanding by saying: "Remember you are ashes, destined for Divinity."