Beauty for Ashes



To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness

Excerpt from Isaiah 61:3

Some of the most serene islands in the world were formed by volcanic eruptions. Think of the Hawaiian Islands – beautiful landscapes, rich, fertile soil, producing bountiful fruit and breath-taking flowers.  Once they were uninhabited, burnt and scarred from the flow of molten rocks, overcome by the blazing heat of an eruption so forceful that nothing could stand in its path.  Now a place of bounty, showing very little signs of its past experiences, in fact, using the eruptions to its advantage, creating a soil so rich that only beauty prevails in the place of former desolation.

Volcanic eruptions are usually unexpected.  Although people who live in their shadow may have heard of them and felt the tremor of their muted rumblings for a long time, the explosions usually come with a shock and fury of the lava spewing, first up, up, up in the air, then a shower of white, black and red – smoke, dust and fire, falling at great speed and spreading to cover too much ground.

There are some incidents in our lives that are just as explosive.  Unexpected, although not unheard of, devastating in their results, leaving emptiness where once there was joy.  Events such as the death of a loved one, heartbreak, diagnosis of chronic illness, terror attacks, or a natural disaster – earthquake, hurricane, etc. change the landscape of our lives, erasing the greenery (contentment and success) and leaving only charred surfaces and ash (a dull ache and a grey cloud over our days) as we come to terms with the devastation, attempt to redefine ourselves and adjust our perspectives in the context of our new normal.

Remember that the story of the island does not end with the eruption; it is in fact, a continuous creative process. After the burns and scars, after the dust settles, and the rain comes, a new layer is created and the island actually grows – higher and wider, richer for its experience, ready to produce again and to be covered in fresh life.

So it is with our lives, the disruptions were never meant to destroy us.  While we may have suffered loss and pain, there is also a work of renewal – an expansion of our previously defined limits and developing strength, which could never have been otherwise uncovered. The result is the creation of a soul so rich, that only bounty will come from it in due time. A bounty grounded in the discovery of our Creator and a trust developed only through experience; an abundance of peace, joy and love that allows us to have compassion for others as they experience eruptions.

In place of the ashes, He gives beauty. Be encouraged.

In memory of Keno and Kirk

Photo credit: Courtesy of Pixabay


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