Posted by: jevcat | March 10, 2011

Ashes and Dust

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and, although I was too busy to write, I did spend a lot of time thinking about ashes and dust.  We have so many associations with those two words:

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”

“All we are is dust in the wind”

Gone to ashes

Color names:  ashes of roses, ash blonde, dusty blue

Dust bunnies (or, in my case, dust rhinos)

“Bite the dust”

Duster (in my childhood, a loose cotton dress worn around the house)

A pleasant one:  desserts “dusted” with powdered sugar or cocoa



“Remember, o man, that dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return”

and, of course, the old joke taking off from the above:  “If that’s so, then under my bed there’s someone either coming or going …

During the few minutes I did have for quiet reflection, the image came to me of charcoal.  As an apartment dweller, I don’t have a chance to barbecue, but, when I was younger, in summer I had a place where I could set up a hibachi and grill food.  I learned the hard way that when the coals first light and are, however briefly, burning brightly, they may look ready to cook things over, but they are not.  Patience is required.  When the initial flame has subsided, if you wait, a layer of ash forms on the outside, and that’s when you can start cooking.  The heat is still there, and can be glimpsed through the ashes, but it has settled down to a steady glow, protected in a way by the ash, and it will burn for a long time that way.  Even after the food is cooked and the meal consumed, the coals will still retain heat, and, if you knock some of the ash layer off, the red glow at the heart will be visible.

It occurred to me that we humans are like that in a way, with an outer layer that conceals the inner one, but the source of the heat can still be felt and sometimes seen.  Maybe not too bad a reflection for a hurried Ash Wednesday.


  1. An excellent reflection for Ash Wednesday.

    • Thanks, Francesca.

  2. Lovely, Janet…what a nice word picture for Ash Wednesday…
    may we all burn brightly within.

    • Thanks, Jane. You, too.

  3. Rise, rise from the ashes as a phoenix on a course to the sun.
    Now that’s easy. Cleaning up the ashes of the past may be a little harder. Glad I visited.

    • Thanks, Carl. I’m glad you visited, too. I see you commenting on Planejaner’s blog often.

  4. Don’t forget “what a dumb ash” and “let’s kick some ash!”

    • How silly of me 🙂

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