My work team is celebrating its sixth anniversary this spring, which sent me on a spiral of investigation about why iron is the traditional 6th anniversary gift, and how it is the element towards which both lighter and heavier elements converge, and how the stars themselves burn out into iron in the end.
This has me thinking of the Lenten reminder, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” When I was small the priests explained this phrase as a kind of humbling admonishment, a reminder that our physical beings come from nothing and will return to nothing, our bodies back to the essential elements when we perish.
Put these two ideas together, and we see something different.
We are not dusty nothing, briefly something, returning to nothing.
We are elemental everything,
briefly something different,
returning to everything.