Candy Dust to Dust


You’ll never believe what happened when Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday fell on the same day, back in 2018.

Here’s what happened:

I had left the house in a rush, grabbing my stuff and wishing my wife an “I love you!” as I ran for the door.  I had to make it to church in time for the come-and-go imposition of ashes. We decided not to have a service this year, opting instead for a couple hour-long spans when people could come to the church, receive ashes and a devotion booklet, and be invited to pray in silence.

There were already a couple people sitting in pews waiting when I got to the sanctuary.  I dropped my stuff in the front pew and reached in my satchel for my vial of ashes—and it wasn’t there!  Instead I found a bag of Valentines candy.  Little candy hearts I was going to pass out to my staff and family that evening.

I stood there, paralyzed, as another person came into the sanctuary.  The man walked down the aisle right to me, brushing away his hair so I could impose the ashes that I didn’t have.

Panicking, and not knowing what else to do, I ripped open the bag of hearts, grabbed one, and placed it in the man’s palm.  Looking down, we read together what it said:  “Be Mine”.

He looked at me, startled.  Straight-faced, I muttered, “Repent and believe the Gospel.” He slowly turned away, as if trying to decide if he was supposed to eat it or not.

There was a line now.  The woman behind him stepped forward, and tentatively held out her hand.  I pulled another one out.  It said, “Hot Stuff”.  Obviously that wouldn’t do, so I popped it in my mouth, said a silent prayer, and pulled out another.  “True Love.”  That was more like it.

“Repent and believe the Gospel,” I said, placing it in her hand.  She smiled.  That was a good sign. The line was all the way down the aisle, now.  Would I have enough appropriate hearts to pass out?  I said another silent prayer.

The next one surprised me: “Have Faith”.  The one after that said, “I Forgive.”  Amazed, I pulled another and gasped.  It said, “Died 4 U”.  People were leaving with tears in their eyes now.  I had to wipe a few away myself.  In later days people would tell me it was the most moving Ash Wednesday they could remember.  Believe me, I gave God all the credit.

As the last person left the sanctuary, I looked down in the bag.  One heart left.  Bracing, I pulled it out.  It said “Dust 2 Dust”.

Indeed.  Wiping the candy dust from my hands, I sank down into the pew and began my own Lenten journey.  I tried to quiet my mind, but the thought wouldn’t leave me…

If God could make Valentines Day into a meaningful observance of Ash Wednesday,

What might God do with April Fool’s Day and Easter?

Have a good week,





God made the apricot.

And in the center of the apricot, God placed a Hershey’s Kiss.

The same with the apple.  And the cherry, and the peach.  Delicious, sweet fruit, and in the middle, a nice lump of chocolate.  Or warm caramel.  Maybe nougat?

No, this is not a game of Candy Land.  (Or Candy Crush.)

It’s just the way I think things ought to be.   Doesn’t it make sense that if God created everything, and called it good, and created us to enjoy the bounty of this earth, there might have been a few more gumdrops and a few less pits?

I think so. However…

Do you know what’s really in the center of those fruits, listed above?


That’s right.  Right in the middle of your favorite fruits, a deadly toxin.  It boggles the mind.

Now don’t worry.  The cyanide comes from the seeds and kernels and pits, and you’d have to ingest A LOT of those innards to get sick.


It seems like a strange arrangement for creation.  Something tasty and sweet and lifegiving on the outside, but poisonous at the core.

It sounds like the kind of a gift a wicked witch might give in a fairy tale, but not the sort of thing a Loving God would create.

Apparently, God is more complicated than I thought.

Apparently, God is not Willy Wonka.  God did not create a world where we can eat every bit of the scenery, and lick the wallpaper too.

Apparently, God did not set the world to be our buffet, where everything is just laid before us, easily accessible.

I’m not just talking about food, now.  I’m talking about Life on Earth.

It did not come gift wrapped for us.  In fact, we come crying and innocent to it.

Our lives have pits in them.  Tough places.  Toxic places.  Challenges and cautions that we must face.

Life, the way God designed it, is not chocolate filled.

Life has pits.

But somehow, in the confronting of those daily perils, have you noticed?

Life is sweeter.

Have a great week,