Lay Devotion with Kim Wu
The story of the two pockets is one I am thinking about on this Ash Wednesday. It is attributed to Rabbi Simcha Bunim, and goes something like this:
"Everyone must have two pockets, with a note in each pocket, so that he or she can reach into the one or the other, depending on the need. When feeling lowly and depressed, discouraged or disconsolate, one should reach into the right pocket, and, there, find the words: “For my sake was the world created.” But when feeling high and mighty one should reach into the left pocket, and find the words: “I am but dust and ashes."
We’re all pretty used to the focus on dust and ashes on Ash Wednesday. They are symbols of our need to confess our sins, repent, and return to God during this season of preparation for the resurrection of Christ. And this year, in our Lenten Worship Tool Kit bags, we were given small containers of sand to remind us that we were created from the dust of the earth.
But after such a long and difficult year, I feel like I need the messages from both pockets today.
I need to be humbled. I need to be reminded of how God feels about sin, and I need to use this season to work on some of these areas in my life.
I also need to be reminded that God loves me. That I am His beloved. That I matter to Him.
I am recalling Jan Richardson’s Ash Wednesday Prayer, “Blessing the Dust”, which our church read last year on this day. It begins: “All those days you felt like dust, like dirt, as if all you had to do was turn your face toward the wind and be scattered to the four corners or swept away by the smallest breath as insubstantial – did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?”
God can take us, full of faults and frailties, and He can do something with us. Something glorious. What a beautiful message of renewal for us to take in as we begin our long approach to Easter.