Ashes to Ashes

We all have heard the phrase “Ashes to Ashes’ but what does it truly mean. It means everything that has life will one day come to an end.

Ashes to Ashes itself is not found in the bible. However, its origin is rooted in the bible, Ecclesiastes 3:20, “all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again”, New King James Version.

How does one get from dust to dust to ashes to ashes when it is not found in the bible? Is it a colloquial word that somebody used somewhere and since then people use it just because? No, it comes from a traditional English Burial Service and the 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer which served as the ritual for burial. At the graveside, mourners would stand as the first shovels of earth (dirt) were cast upon the grave and the Priest would say:

“Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.”

My son Connor was cremated and as a family, we have struggled with his permanent memorial. We finally had a tree planted at the skate park, which has been a victory. A plaque in the administrative office is included with the tree however, we decided that is not enough. We want a small monument with the tree to let others know it is in Connor’s honor. That is still a work in progress.

Connor was on the go all the time. If he was not skateboarding, he was hiking and camping. So many of us never get to do as much of the things we love. Connor was no exception. However, we found a way to give Connor that experience. Our new tradition is that when the family goes camping or hiking, we take some of Connor’s ashes with us so that he is with us in spirit.

We know that our adventures would be something he would enjoy. He would be the one creating a huge bonfire that would be breathtaking. We built fires but none of them rival his work.

He could also be found up with the sun because he never went to bed. He would spend the entire night talking with his friends. In his world, and that of many of his friends in recovery, staying up all night is called wedging. I can’t stay up all night, but I get up with the sunrise knowing that Connor would be greeting me with a resound beautiful “‘morning, Mah!”

The fallen tree over the stream would have been his place to run across, jump from or just sit on. It was from that tree that some ashes were cast into the stream. Others walked and cast them from the creek bed. We expressed how much we miss him, love him and look forward to seeing him again. This activity brings us closer as a family and brings us joy as we remember brother, cousin, and son.

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