August 22, 2006

Dust Dancing

2006 1524 page23 caphen I was very young, I was startled one day to realize that I could see individual molecules of air. Well, wouldn’t that surprise you?
I asked a couple of people if they could see it too, and when they said no, I knew it was a very special knowing, for unfathomable reasons gifted just to me. I’d sit and dream as I watched the particles dancing in the sunshine, and feel a welling wonder. They glittered, they jostled, caught up in currents, like warm-weather snowflakes, like pirouetting air ballerinas, like . . . like . . . like particles of dust in a shaft of sunlight.
2006 1524 page23When I finally figured it out, I felt too ashamed, too stupid, to tell anyone about it. But a bit of wonder left my young life that day. And the realities of adulthood, the frailties of my fallenness, one by one, soberly took its place.
At the moment, when the early morning sun hits just right, you can see plenty of dust on my coffee table. I confess that I have not once thought of how sublimely my table top dust bits glitter. Instead, I think of how I need to finish my Sabbath cleaning. And about what dust is, shards of shed dead skin, bug bits, minute scrapings of . . . well, of everything. Detritis of death, laid out soberly on my coffee table. A daily wake.
But, there’s another dust story. A daily wake-up call, from history’s dawning. There, in the garden, my imagination can see Him crouching down, joyously fashioning life from the very dust of the earth. From near nothing creating something wonderful, fashioning man from dust, breathing in Life. Breathing in nothing less than Himself.
When I remember that He did that, I also remember that He does it still. Daily. Death to life. And, dust and all, I am suddenly caught up in the shaft of His wondrous light. I am part of the celebration of the created, the dance of the dusted. He sparkles in the very molecules of the air I breathe. And this death- and dust-encrusted creature wakes to an even more special and gifted knowing: that I am Spirit-breathed. That I am indwelt by His light and His life. That death may come for me, but that Life will finally claim me. Through His death I have been remade of more eternal stuff.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, so shall I never die, but live with Thee the perfect life of Thine eternity.
May I learn now, this very, every moment, to daily wake to the joy of that rebirth, that reshaping, at the hands of the One who traveled this dusty road of death for me, so that I might one day be caught up in the air to be, eternally, with Him.
Valerie N. Phillips is the associate director of the women’s residence hall at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, where she has ministered to collegiate women for more than 25 years.