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“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Somehow, those words sound strangely beautiful to me. They always have, but I haven’t quite been able to put words to why until lately.

Maybe part of the reason why can be found in two shows that I’ve watched recently.

In the season finale of the first season of Agents of Shield, Fitz and Simmons are locked in an airtight steel box at the bottom of the ocean with (almost) no way out, and they talk about dying, as one does in a steel box at the bottom of the ocean. “It’s not so bad,” Jemma says, “that the rough matter in us will one day be part of a star.” (Or something to that effect.

In “The Rings of Akhaten,” the Doctor has taken Clara on an adventure far beyond her place in time or space. They go to a distant planet, where they meet a little girl whose one duty is to sing a song. Time has run out since the Sun-Singers started, however, and the little girl is terrified, so the Doctor tells her a story: that she is the only one like her, that every element in her body was forged in the heart of a supernova, and that nowhere else in all of time and space is to be found that singular identity that forms her.

During our new pastor’s Ash Wednesday homily, he quoted a lesser-known corollary of these same words: “Remember, dust, that you are man,” referring to the Resurrection.

It is such a curious and glorious fate that God can create things that are more than the sum of their matter.

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