I was out trying to fix a sprinkler earlier today. (Yes, Mama, I had on my N95 mask.) I was working as fast as I could so I could get back in the house. I noticed that I had ash on my arms and could feel it getting in my eyes. My glasses lenses were scattered with it. I noticed it on everything. I noticed that I couldn’t see behind our property very far today from all the smoke. When I got in the house, I decided to take a shower to get the smoke and ash off of me, and I noticed that the top of my head had quite a bit of ash on it. Seeing that ash on my head, even more than when I was out in the yard, shoved me right into a reality I hadn’t examined thoroughly before.
All I could think about was that people’s lives were raining down and floating all around me… pasts, futures, hopes, dreams, plans, tiny pieces of homes and precious belongings, maybe even pets and other wildlife. And I couldn’t help but think, “Please, no people.” Whatever it used to be, it’s all things that can’t be put back together again. They can be replaced, some of it, but if you’ve ever lost or broke something special, often times it’s just not the same. I hear it said often in times like this, “At least they didn’t lose their lives.” In an obvious sense that is 100% true, but it’s also not true at all – when we work so hard for the things we have, the places we live, the things we cultivate and that are precious to us.
Certainly I think it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of us would not trade our lives for any of those other things, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or isn’t significant. It may even be life-changing and cause a domino effect of other hardships.
So I said a quick prayer over the ashes on my head, a prayer for what was contained in them – the things that though they showed up as ash are actually the intangibles that keep us all going. I didn’t think to mention any of this until I saw someone posting a little bit ago about how annoyed they were with all the ash on everything. I get it. It’s messy and it’s certainly not good for us to breathe in. Yet, I think it’s sacred. Granted, we’ll have to wash it off of things, and some of it will catch in the wind and be shuffled off to another destination over and over again, but I sure will see it differently forevermore when I watch it floating down, resting on things, or being rinsed away.