Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beauty for Ashes

Lenten Rose in the front garden this morning.
Today is Ash Wednesday, a traditional day of repentance for Christians all over the world. Today is also a terrible day of loss in the life of someone I love very much. When I asked if there was anything I could do for her, she asked me to pray. I haven't prayed formally or even been to church in years and I've gotten less and less religious with time. So, in order to give comfort and let her know I'm thinking of her, I'm veering off topic a bit today. But not all that much, really, because some things are hard to separate.

This year's Christmas tree going out in a blaze of glory.
The past few weeks we've been clearing and burning on days when we are allowed to in order to get ready for fire season.

Buddleia thicket
Things that have grown too large have been cut down,

Buddleia thicket cut back to stubs.
and burned.

Allowing this much fuel to accumulate in front of a propane tank is a bad idea. I was afraid to do what needed doing because I didn't want to disturb the occupants of the thicket.

Checkerspot larvae 
I shouldn't have worried. When the sun hit the inner sprouts, the little Checkerspots came out to feed. 

Grandma and Grandpa's Dutch oven.
Up in the horse pasture we built a bonfire out of the branches that came down this year in the big windstorm. We made stew in the Dutch oven and sat around the fire until after dark.

In the morning, all that was left was ashes. Today you might see people with a smear of ash across their forehead. This is a sign of their repentance for their sins and their faith in Jesus to redeem them. As I remember from childhood, as the priest anoints you with ashes he says "You are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Genesis 3: 19

I looked up the Bible passage where I believe this comes from, and it seems more like a curse than a blessing. We're just compost. Not very comforting at all. I don't understand why this is so often used at funerals as well. Because, after all, as Christians we are taught that there is so much more.

Isaiah 61: 3
I went looking and found something very beautiful and very comforting.  It's a promise. But not only that, it's something that I see out in the garden every day.

I put a bit of ash under the apricot tree this year.
Beauty does spring up from the ashes.

My daughter brought this back from Rome for me. It's blessed by the Pope.
So, I'll be praying for you. The old way.

Nature's wordless eloquence is always perfect.
I think this is meant for you. It's a sunflower popping up in a pile of ashes, today, in the middle of Winter.

One more thing:
 When I dusted off my old Bible today, look what I found tucked inside.


  1. Sorry to hear about their loss. It made you stop and think and appreciate though. Sometimes we all need that. Looks like a quality special day you spent cutting back and the fun of the bonfire and cooking at it. Now you're all ready for Spring too.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

    1. I agree. In the end all we really have is the time we've spent with those we love. I couldn't be looking forward to Spring more.

  2. I become less religious too as time goes by. We are still in fire ban season now. It is still too hot and dry here. Sorry to hear for the loss of the one that has a heart in your place.

    1. Thank you. You are very kind.

  3. Beauty for Ashes is thoughtful and beautiful. Thank you for writing it. I am wiping my tears........

    Love, Mom

    1. Oh, Mom. Sometimes it's so hard to be all the way up here and to feel so useless. One thing I know is this: you are the strongest person I know. In the end things will be what they will be, but you will still be that strong person I've always looked up to.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of your very special person.
    I extend my deepest sympathies to you for your terrible loss.

    I didn't know Ash Wednesday,but I just learned of it from you for the first time. I can understand one of very immportant Christian rituals now.
    A fire blazing up is really beautiful,I think.

    Well, you found very sweet,nice and old picture. I wonder Who drew it? your dear daughter or you? :)
    I found my diary,I wrote as first grade elementary school child, before When I cleaned up my house.I was ashamed of myself when I read it. Its handwriting was very terribl,more over My writing ability was so bat.haha...

    By the way,I was very surprised at the photo of your apricot tree.Because I had just posted a photo of same tree. but my one is much smaller than yours.
    When you have some free time,Please see my ume-tree.

    1. Thank you for your kind words of sympathy. My Dad is passing still. The loss is the same as if he were gone, though. My Mom had to make the terrible decision to place him in a nursing home so that he can be cared for properly. I'm very happy you've started a blog and will certainly follow along.

    2. Oh,I'm very sorry indeed.My ability to read English is very poor,so I have mistook the meaning of loss.I'm so sorry to say impolite thing to you,and thank you very much for pointing out my rude mistake and following my blog.

    3. No, no! Don't be sorry. You weren't a bit rude. You were very kind. Your English is also very good. I was not very clear on purpose to spare my Mom's privacy. But since she left a comment, I think she's okay with this being in the open. Your blog is fascinating. Japan is a beautiful place and I'm so glad to see your scenery and culture. It's funny we both have an apricot blooming at the same time! The climates must be very similar.

  5. Hi Kate, I'm so sorry about your dad. A fire is such a powerful place to put your grief... or at least to turn your attention and awe to, and the way you've written about the experience is lovely. I'm sending healing thoughts to you and your mom.

    Thank you for letting me know that my mom's seeds are coming up in your garden. That, to me, is very hopeful news indeed.

    1. Thank you for the good thoughts. I really appreciate that kindness. I like your observation about fire and I think you're absolutely right. I think each of us around the bonfire that night were caught up in different memories. We were a quiet bunch, and peaceful. Very few things have come up from seed for me here with as much vigor as your mom's poppies. I can tell there's a lot of love and joy in them.

  6. Katie, what a lovely tribute to your Mom and Dad! It's true we get what comfort we can from the renewal of Spring and plants sprouting where we think they never could. Spring seems all the more miraculous after the cold and chill of this winter. It can't come soon enough for me! Take care..

    1. Thanks, Sue.
      It sure does look like Spring is here. Now, I wonder if that big rain storm will really happen next week?


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