I’ve been quiet for a lot of reasons over the past few months. I haven’t written a word for myself. For reasons most of you know, or can guess. Moving is hard, transition is hard, new jobs are hard, and so it goes.
But I will tell you this. In the midst of bearing up a loved one, I’ve been thinking about ashes.
About when you burn a life down, when the old is gone, and you are staring at the wreckage trying to make sense of the loss and the grief.
Truth be told, I don’t know what’s burning in your life. When Original Jaime died, on the heels of the loss of my first babe, I sat cross-legged in the flames and let it burn. The life I knew before, my cocoon of safety, was dust in the wind, slow turning in the draft as the embers faded. For my loved one, it’s a vision of what could have been crashing into what is, 4000 days or so of grief, regret, and lost time.
Did you know wood ash contains calcium, potassium, and a variety of trace minerals important for plant health? It’s also a component of homemade soap. Soaking ashes in water produces lye, which can be mixed with animal fat and then boiled to produce soap.
Did you catch that? The leavings of your old life can help wash away the grime left by what was consumed. And there is still life there. There is food for new growth, for rebirth, for building a new life with the wreckage of the old. There is gold, too – the best parts of us still exist, refined by fire, fed by the ashes, and waiting to be transformed into a redemptive, shining picture of grace, grief, and hope. The elements of the original are there, recomposed, changed, redeemed. There is redemption, always.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … I’m honest enough to admit that were the years ticked backwards, I would not choose the flame. The pain is a lingering thing, ghostly sometimes, but always there. I’ll never, ever, minimize what you, my dear friends, have sacrificed to the fire.
But I’ll always talk about the hope buried deep in the ashes.