Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Mortality, and a Working Dryer

Jerry came off the $300 for a dryer last night from the discount appliance store.  Yay! It has a small dent near the top, which is the reason why it was $300 rather than $450.   I could care less about cosmetic flaws.  Nobody is going to come down to my basement for the view, much less to admire the appliances.  I just need them to work. The model we ended up with was actually one I hadn’t researched ahead of time online because it was out of my price range.  It is larger than the old dryer (7.0 cubic ft. vs 5.8 cubic ft) and according to the reviews I have trolled through so far (why bother to read reviews after you buy something, but what the hey?) most people who have bought this model report that you can dry a large load of clothes in less than an hour.  I would delighted if this is really so, especially in an electric dryer.  I am further along the road to being able to do laundry again.  The new dryer is sitting in the garage waiting for whoever Jerry can bribe to help him 1. get it down the basement stairs- which is not going to be a good time, and 2. remove the power cord and vent from the old dryer, 3. attach the power cord (correctly I hope…) and vent to the new dryer.  Whoever is willing to help him get this beast down the stairs is cordially invited to haul the old one away. The old one has to be worth something.  The motor, heating element, and timer still work.

I would be pleasantly surprised- no- elated- to come home and be able to wash and dry clothes again.  Especially if I can have dry clothes in three hours or less.

Today is one of those holidays I have to explain to Jerry.  Otherwise he will be taunting all the Catholics (a good number of Lutherans, and even some Methodists too) he encounters today for having “dirt on their heads.”  Since I grew up Catholic I know all about Ash Wednesday and Lent and the rituals surrounding the season- as if Mom would let one forget that you better not even think about eating a Sloppy Joe for lunch on a Lenten Friday- even if it is served with the school lunch.   What I don’t understand about the no-meat-on-Friday-during-Lent rule is, what part of a seafood dinner is self-denial?  You can’t have a bologna sandwich because it’s meat, but you can have catfish nuggets or a 21-piece shrimp dinner, or even frigging lobster instead?  What kind of a sacrifice is that?  I’ll gladly trade a bologna sandwich or a Sloppy Joe for a shrimp dinner any day.  It would be more sacrificial in my opinion to say, “No, I’ll have the bologna sandwich instead of the cocktail shrimp and catfish nuggets.”   Lutherans also observe Lent, but with a little less focus on strict ritual forms.  I like the idea of taking up a good habit- like getting some extra exercise, or taking up a devotional series, or doing an anonymous act of kindness every day, rather than giving something up, or being weird about food, but to each his or her own.   

The whole point of observing Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent in general, at least in my opinion, is to remember one’s mortality.  Life on this earth in these flawed and wretched bodies is a limited time offer.  So what’s the purpose of life?  From a Christian perspective, the apostle Paul explains the purpose of life as follows:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

I have heard it said that a person is immortal while God still has work for them to do here on earth.  I’d like to know what it is I’m supposed to accomplish so I can get it done and over with if that’s the case- but it’s not about what I do. It’s about what God wants done.  I am somewhat surprised at the lengths He has gone to in order to keep my sorry carcass alive.  If one were to adhere strictly to the odds of natural law I should have been worm food many years ago. I’ve been very close on more than one occasion.  The theology behind the immortality of those who have not completed their earthly mission seems to be correct at least from my observation, (God is omnipotent after all) but it does open up a can of worms.  The implication is that God had a purpose for both Mother Teresa- and Hitler.  The Old Testament is full of examples of God using “bad” people to get the Israelites back in line, time and time again.  In accepting the omnipotence of God, one must take the downright evil and tragic in the world along with puppies and flowers and rainbows.  One must also accept that there is a reason why some children die very young, why kids go out and rob and rape and shoot each other, and other people manage to outlive all their friends and family and languish for decades in their dotage, senile and crazy and crapping their pants. 

I don’t have an easy answer for any of that.  I don’t think I’m supposed to.  I’m not God.  That job is taken, and I am supremely grateful for that fact.

In accepting the omnipotence of God, one must accept suffering and the truly mind-numbing and tragic in the world.  Believing God and questioning Him doesn’t mean we will ever have clear explanations or complete understanding, but there is comfort in knowing that sooner or later things will be as He intended them to be, which is an important point.  Whether I understand God’s purpose or not is not as important as being compelled to ask Him the questions and accept the answers He is willing to give me.  The primary sin of humanity (according to C.S. Lewis) is pride- wanting MY will versus THY will.  That’s the paradox the apostle Paul speaks of in Romans 7.   We might not like the processes God uses to put us in our proper place.  I know a lot of the time I ask God, why this, or why that, and either He is silent or I’m just not hearing His answer.

I know I am a cynical and often sarcastic individual and those really are not good qualities.  Behind the humor is tragedy, a sense of longing for something better, of wanting something beyond this life. 

I freely admit it’s hard for me to see Jesus through my own apathy.  I am not at all effective in seeing Christ in others (I try to avoid most people, truth be told,) and it’s especially difficult to think of doing things for Jerry as serving God.  It’s hard to imagine Jesus acting like a petulant, whiny child. 

I am not always a very thankful person, either, which is also shameful.  I should not be so willing to criticize, or to covet what I simply don’t have.  I should be more grateful for what I do have.

God put me here for a reason, even if I don’t understand it.  Maybe I’m here to expand others’ vocabularies- or to learn to love the Great Unwashed.

I can see people looking at me and laughing at the visual.  This is plausible too.

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