“To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
It is soft and powdery like babies, still slightly warm, feeling like feathers deteriorating into dust and when toes are submerged in their cool state, post bonfire-embers, they are a fluffy kind of dirty:
storm-cloud colored ashes.
What was once a towering tree is now being stepped on by wondering feet and blown away by post-storm winds.
What was once a solid stump of wood has now become light and fragile.
What was once blazing in flames is now on the same ground as the dirt-turned-mud from all the teary rain.
Though the ashes are almost forgotten and seemingly insignificant, there is richness in their gentle folds and furrows.
Farmers sprinkle ashes on their fallow fields to revitalize the soil. When seeds are planted in the darkness of the underground, they drink up the zinc and manganese the ashes freely give. From the lifeless, precious blooms, stalks of sweet corn, rows of musty tobacco, and eclectic wild flowers hugging the perimeter of the fields spring up toward the sky.
The beasts of earth’s surface even acknowledge the power in the ashes. Volcanoes bubble and spew rivers of red hot lava. Cascades of molten minerals tumble down the wholy mountain, devouring the tender-green and breathy plants. When the lava cools, the earth sighs, but only for a moment, because plants soon crack open the hardened rock, rich with the nutrients they drink in from the once fierce and fiery lava.
Life sometimes blooms, yielding wonderment and joy, and other times it is burnt up and broken, left lifeless on the ground. Back and forth, ebbing and flowing, there is death and rebirth, and with every rebirth, the plant grows stronger from the ash. The hurts that burn inside can consume the gardens in our hearts, but then fertile soil is left for regrowth. Jesus can place a glowing crown of splendor on our heads, but first, there needs to be some fire and ash to give gleam to the crown.
Day to day lives are lived with a scarcity of beauty. There is beauty all around, but to the naked eye and lack of searching souls it goes amiss. Under the ash are blooms waiting to bud and under the coal and rock beds are diamonds.
It is a matter of searching for the roses among the thorns:
- “When life gives you scraps, make a quilt.” Instead of tossing the unworthy to the side, make it into something wonderful. Breathe life into the seams and see the beauty unveil into its true self. Most importantly take the scraps tenderly and softly, they have had a rough go of it and need a little grace.
- Examine your heart. Search the pain and see what blooms out of it. It may take minutes or years, but with some time everything can bring some more good. Take the dingy heart of stone and turn it into a warm heart of flesh, one that sustains life. The grounds are always fertile beneath the top layers, they just take some tilling and a dose of patience.
- Every day be in search of the ash and the beauty. Life is raw and real and lovely. Sometimes life will be stifled, it will rise and spill out onto the floor. The mess is ok. Above all, love will spring out and nourish broken bodies into brilliant blooms and dark hearts will feel light again.
One day this world will fade and no bloom will be left. We will be home in the gardens of heaven, planted by the creator himself. The ash will dissipate and all that will be left is pure hearts and stunning souls. Hearts long for these perfect blooms, but until then we need to plant the seeds of our life into the fertile ash.