It carries a different message when it comes in Ecclesiastes than when you hear it from Genesis. In Genesis it's God (Almighty) thundering it at you in a quasi-James Earl Jones voice - YOU ARE DUST. It sounds very threatening, condemning; God kicks you out of Eden, tells you how much your life is going to suck and then tells you that you will end up as dust. Good threat.
In Ecclesiastes, it's a man - the teacher. I hear it as an elderly Yiddish man from the Lower East Side shrugging and saying, "Eh, what are you gonna do? We're smoke. I'm dust, you're dust, it's all meshuggina"
You are dust. You're dust. And if you aren't now, you will be. No heaven, no afterlife, no warm light at the end of the tunnel. Not in this scripture. You're dust.
And lest you think that this is terrible news, don't. It's liberating.
You. Are. Finite. and this is bigger than you.
This is the Lent that is worth following. this is bigger than you.
Not "New Years II - Return of the Resolution," Not "Piety Show-&-Tell."
this is bigger than you.
You're dust, and it 60, 90, 99 years your resolution won't be here. The Coke that you may or may not have drunk won't be here; the radio in your car that you turned off for 40 days (plus Sundays) won't be here. That's dust.
But something will still be. Goodness will still be there, Humanity will still be there, God. And you have a chance to contribute.
God is in all things good, and all goodness is in God.
this is bigger than you but not than Goodness. So when you give something up, don't give it up for men, to be seen by them. Don't give it up for Facebook, to be seen by Facebook. Don't even give it up for God, to be seen by God. God doesn't need to see your piety any more than Facebook does. God will be fine. When you fast, give something up that will contribute.
Don't give it up for yourself, to be seen by yourself. This is bigger than you, and, let's face it, what isn't. After all, at the end of it all