The fact is, we are dust. We eat dust, we form objects from dust and we burn dust for power. We have figured out how to make things from dust like shoes to protect and separate us from dust. Powered flight and space travel are made possible through dust. And when we are all finished, we shall return to dust, it will be a homecoming of sorts. This tragic bit of truth was not given us through science, but from scripture.
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Later confirmed through the lyrics of Joni Mitchel’s in her song “Woodstock” “We are star-dust… billion year old carbon.”
Perhaps the scriptural notations about dust and death were simply a matter of observation? At any rate the fact remains that dust rules and for that reason I will be spelling dust with a capital “D” here on out.
For most of us, this life is a desperate situation. It is a sobering thought that we assume form, thrive for a spell and then cease to exist. Our only hope is to leave a mark. a scratch on the fabric of time and space. We’ve seen it done in the past.
Antaeus stone monuments, great buildings and unspeakable art haunt us with the fact the we will never accomplish such greatness. Unless carved in stone, even written accounts of greatness will not last either. In fact stones are just a large version of Dust pulling together for a time and then cycling back into the Dust from whence it came. In this world of struggle and constant paddling just to keep our heads above the Dust, Not even our posterity can guarantee a testimony of our existence.
This may be the reason the, “Kilroy was here” method of tagging is so popular. The leaving of a mark for others to see once we are gone. Much of it today is done with a can of spray-paint.The rattle can added high levels of color and design to our markings but can not match the simplest of drawings and spattered hand silhouettes on ancient cave walls. I speculate the cave art of our ancestors was done for simple joy and not left as an “I was once here”. for the generations to come. It is very rare these days to come across a marker that shares the simple beauty of a cave drawing.
In the high desert of Central Oregon, between Redmond and Bend there stands on the east side of highway 97 a dead tree. Not so unusual for sure, but this tree is decorated with fleeting attempts of timeless recognition. There is no plaque out front giving explanation of its purpose or qualifications for participation. If I were asked to name it, I would call it “The Tree of DASH, Dust Activated Soul Hanger.
I have driven by it many times as I traveled for work and was entertained by its whimsy. At a quick glance I surmised it was a place where the young and those who longed to leave a mark, expressed themselves.
It wasn’t until I stopped there at 3 a.m. to take pictures in the dark of the clear desert night, I was moved by its majesty of purpose.
It was thought-provoking to say the least. I stood there looking up at the bottom of shoes stranded between heaven and earth, trying with all their might to escape the bonds of Dust even a slow motion struggle with the universal power of gravity,
More thoughts came. Thoughts of souls, not soles, as they pass through the gates of time and the physical. I wanted to assign it the title of monument. Clearly i could see the countless victims of the despicable practice of Lynching, Each shoe bottom accounting for a thousand lives hanging before me. My heart ached. Then my gaze reached beyond the branches and all the way to the moon and I wondered if the reason for the moon was to stand as a witness to what takes place in the dark. And beyond that the stars waited patiently while the heavens called, urging the souls to come hither and find refuge from the Dust..The Dust that makes War and love possible, Dust that grows into trees to bare fruit and to hang from. Offering escape from the Dust which buries the dreadful and blemished as well as the beautiful.
To those who collectively created this “Tree of DASH” I say ,”Thank You!” Your attempted expression of being has worked for me. I get it. Your shoes mean much more than the “You” but stands for us all. We are here.We do exist and even tho we will some day return to dust. We did matter, we did… We did what Dust can not do without us,