Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

–Genesis 3:19

and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

The first time I remember hearing the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” was when Princess died.

Princess was a pet cat, circa 1968-approx. 1971. I don’t remember that much about her other than she was gray, and I don’t recall having a particular fondness for her, although I’m sure I liked her well enough. That, in spite of the fact that she made me sneeze and my eyes water.

One day my mother was picking up my older sister and me from school. When we got in the car, we knew something was wrong. “Princess is dead,” Mom said, never one to pussyfoot around when it came to hitting you between the eyes with The Bad News of the Day.

“What?” we exclaimed. Princess had been fine when we left for school that morning, so the report hit us hard. I don’t remember Mom’s explanation, if she had one at all.

Maybe Princess became suddenly ill, but if you were a cat in rural Southwest Virginia back in those days, nobody was going to be spending hard-earned cash to take you to the vet just because you were flat on your back and shallow-breathing. If you couldn’t survive on table scraps and an occasional treat of Puss n’ Boots, then tough paws, because there were at least a dozen mangy felines peering in from the back stoop just waiting to take your place.

We began sobbing gently and that’s when she said it. She stared out toward the distant Blue Ridge Mountains to the north and in a soft, almost sing-song way with her voice trailing off toward the end, said: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Well, gee, thanks for the sympathy, Mom. But that’s Mom: no-nonsense, hardscrabble, tough-as-nails Depression Era Baby. And of course, she was right (and probably thinking, Well that’s one less mouth to feed). It was time to get over it and move on.

Little did any of us realize at the time that the cat was just a warm-up.

(Lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday 2009).

  1. mmlace

    Thanks for the linke to the readings. I needed those this morning. Much love.

  2. mmlace

    Dr. Eyeguy! You didn’t give up bloggin for Lent, did you??? I just couldn’t help but think that it’s been a LONG time since we’ve heard from you. Hope all is well! Much love!

  3. Mike the Eyeguy

    Bono (channeling God) told me to “Shush now!” So I am.


  4. cg

    I assume you’re keeping tabs on the tourney during your hiatus?

  5. Mike the Eyeguy

    Oh yes, of course. Had it not been for the extra wattage I was producing in my living room during the closing moments of the Texas-Duke game, there’s no way Singler would have made that tip-in.

    The Sweet 16 is looking very Old School. I love it.

  6. mmlace

    Still here…


    Patiently, of course!

    But here, nonetheless…

    Just wanted you to know i miss your thoughts!

Comments are closed.