From Dust to Rich Soil


All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.

Ecclesiastes 3:20

We have begun the liturgical season of Lent. Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, Christians worldwide remind themselves of their dependence on God. As we set aside the airs of grandeur, we are forced to behold the messes we are, messes which only He can clean up.

Though this sounds romantic, know that Lent will not leave you as you were if you celebrate properly.

Humans like to have everything under control, especially ourselves. During Lent, we are forced to acknowledge that our own selves are in His hands. We teach ourselves lessons of morality and wrestle with demons disguised as ‘human nature.’ We set goals for Lent, abstaining from red meat or snacks; whether we succeed or not, we are reminded that we’re not in control.

Ignore the cravings, cheat on a Sunday, you will be forced to admit it is difficult.

Lent is supposed to be an uncomfortable time, but this does not mean it has to be a dark time. The spirit of Lent should be carried throughout the year, this battle for our own souls. We should learn to approach an admission of weakness as freedom: it allows us to rest our heads on His Sacred Heart, knowing that there is no other way to “be perfect.” We give it all up to Him, even the vices and pain that we somehow glorified. He loves us too much to let us stay enslaved.

Take comfort, for you are dust. From dust the Lord shaped you into a human. Everything unique about you was formed by His Hands. Your strengths and weaknesses were breathed by Him. Take comfort–while you are still expected to fight the good fight and endure until the end, your failures are progress. We do not need to feel like gods when we are formed from dust. We do not need to wallow in shame; we are dust and, as He shaped into what we are, He can shape us into more perfect versions–if we let Him.

Lent is more than a time to give up donuts. We should always live grateful that our God never gives up on us. If we will drop the petty things that make us feel unique, things we won’t admit are hurting us, He will transform us. The flower must push through the ground before it blooms; we are dust, and dust can be made into beautiful clay statues, but not without an uncomfortable process.

If we live our lives with the penitential, humble spirit of Lent, we might one day be perfect.

I am trying to purge myself of toxic thoughts. I am trying to do scary things and step over the boundaries I set, somehow believing I knew myself enough to dictate what I am capable of. I know nothing about myself; how can I dare say what I am capable of? I am savoring every moment and opening doors I can’t afford to keep closed.

A heart shut up won’t break, but neither will it grow.

I am dust. So long as I remember this, I can be shaped by God into something worthy of Him. I will never be finished in this life, but how dare I stop seeking worthiness? How dare I settle in this shriveled version of myself? Lent is uncomfortable, but so is life.

Use Lent as a time to take action and toss your demons out the door. Don’t give them the key or tell them where the spare is hidden. You might feel empty for a while without them, but angels won’t take long to come to your aid.

Do not be grieved by the memory of being dust. Beautiful things grow out of dirt; God can make this dust into rich soil, home to a most glorious flower garden pleasing to Him.

How Covid Affected My Faith


This is part one of a long testimonial that sprang from a single question. If anything, the virus has forced me to think hard about what I believe and why. I do not know when I’ll post the rest. If you’re interested, perhaps I’ll share.

Why is it so hard to talk about faith? I’ve had these thoughts sitting in a Google doc for over a week now, and though the world is hushed and starved for instances of true faith, I feel as if I am breaking some form of politically correct code in simply stating what most of my acquaintances know about me.

Why do we hesitate to talk about and commit to our belief systems? Two things might happen. We could find people who disagree, which is natural, and in a good situation it would end in discussion and understanding. We could also stumble on our own trains of thought and find that thinking about our faith discourages us rather than strengthen it.

I’ve always thought faith was a spiritual gift of mine, though. Based on the Rock as it is, it might have taken a swing or two in bad times, but I’ve never lost it. Simpler faiths have not tempted me. I highly doubt a simpler faith would get me through things such as a worldwide pandemic.

Following months of Covid and plague, a dramatic election, a controversial vaccine, and lots of angry conversations with people suffering in ways I can’t see physically–after all of that, I’ve been seeing posts asking a very important question.

How has Covid affected my Catholic faith?

It would be a lie to say Covid has not affected it. It would be a waste not to use my voice if I can steadily phrase my situation. It would be cowardice to keep it to myself because people are allergic to faith lately. I’m sure more people are looking for a visible, sturdy faith lately than they’d readily admit.

The answer is simple on the surface. People who were already struggling with Catholicism probably lost what little faith they had when thousands of people began to die. People like me who had better-rooted faith are still struggling. I promise there is a struggle. It looks different, though.

When 2021 began, I wanted to do a “positivity hashtag” using JPII’s context of Be Not Afraid. Reality hit me, and it sank in that I could not spread a worldwide message of hope alone when I myself am still human and caught in the uncertainty. I did not give up on the message, but allowed it to affect me. Instead of shoving a hashtag at people, I drank the message in small gulps until I was able to remember God’s faithfulness on the darkest of days.

Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I’m not speaking to a room full of angels and divine intervention. That’s okay–I’m not meant to feel that every day. On occasions when I feel that my words are just words, I keep saying them. I might be tired, and it might be difficult to ‘hold the phone’ for me sometimes. However, for God it never is–and I rely on His strength, not mine, to hold the phone.

I therefore feel the need to rearrange my message to the world right now. Be afraid–but don’t let it stop you. Yes, we have reasons to be afraid right now. God is still holding the phone; He is still turning the proverbial wheel. We can be afraid, but when we are, we should always turn to him.

How, then, has Covid affected my Catholic faith? I debated which blog to post this on. My missionary blog has been quiet because I am indeed human and the creative cycle can only do so much when I can’t see peoples’ faces. I’ve managed to write a tiny amount of fiction, and 1k lately is a great writing session.

How has Covid affected my Catholic faith? I no longer feel the need to separate myself the author from the religious believer. I question my choice last year of creating a separate blog to talk about my brothers and sisters, the Saints. I’m not a nice person anymore, because I have opinions that might upset people.

I once saw someone comment somewhere, “I’m a Catholic, but I don’t let it define me.” I suppose I can answer the opposite quite frankly: I am a Catholic, and I do let it define me.

Last week I saw someone say “Being Catholic and being Christian are not the same thing.” I agree; being Catholic means I’m still on the rock that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16. 

I’m not intending to step on toes, but when other people are thoughtless on dropping a comment on the flip side, I don’t understand why I have to be nice and keep the response to myself–because it is not the right thing to do, and you don’t put a lamp under a basket.

I’m not a nice person because people keep ignorantly stepping on my toes, believing in a Jesus built on personal interpretation on a book that was modified to reformers’ liking. However, I digress. My personal faith and another’s will look different. If you agree it’s not Christlike to step on someone’s toes unprovoked, we can move on.

Except maybe we can’t–because I’m getting into history now. History lines up with my testimony. I pay attention to history because we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Since this digresses majorly from the Covid topic, I’m going to meditate before I share the rest. Now at least I know I answered the first question.

To Be Continued (Maybe)…