I bought the hooded jacket not because I needed it, but because it was only five dollars. It fits. It’s light and has a soft lining, perfect for my walks in Wisconsin spring. There is only one problem. It’s white. This morning I realized, white is not conducive to kneeling in a field of ashes.
When I came around the corner of the woods, I saw the prairie sprawled out before me in a black coat of soot. In a controlled burn, only a few days prior, fire had consumed all of last year’s old grasses and empty stalks. Even though the fire was no longer burning, its smell still hung in the air like an invisible curtain. From a distance, I could see thin lines of green paths winding through the entire scorched field. The new grass which had grown on the walkways had kept the fire at bay.
As I walked along those narrow trails, I looked closely at the burnt field. To my surprise I noticed small sprouts of new growth everywhere. With my camera in hand, I knelt in the ashes to get a closer look. I couldn’t get enough of taking in all of the new life springing up from the blackened earth. My white jacket was soon covered in dark residue.
I thought about my prayer-life. Do I kneel and ask God to reveal life to me in the midst my circumstances? How often do I kneel and look for what God is doing all around me? It’s easy for me to bring the obvious to God, all the things which seem too dark, too hard, too hopeless. Yet, He invites me to come and look closely, strain for a different perspective and trust Him. While kneeling and looking closely can be messy, it is always rewarding.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.”
Isaiah 43:2 (ESV)
“and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.”
(Pictures and essay by Heidi Viars, 2021)