Posted by: jevcat | February 17, 2010

Ashes and Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

 I’ve never felt quite the same about ashes – and, hence, Ash Wednesday – since September 11, 2001.

 In Battery Park that morning I saw bits of paper blown out of the towers filling the air – not quite ashes, but fragments nevertheless.  From the back of the ferry running home to Staten Island and safety, and later from my windows facing the harbor, I watched the column of smoke and ash that rose for weeks.  Even at Christmas, when wind and weather conditions were right, we could still catch a whiff of smoke from my neighborhood.

 Somewhere during that time I noticed that tiles in the bathroom were dusty, shower spray making tracks down the wall.  I was puzzled until I realized that wasn’t dust, it was ash, and Trade Center ash included people as well as buildings.  It felt awe-full and somehow sacred, silence and sorrow the only appropriate responses, however incongruous while standing without a stitch in the shower.

 But ash is more than endings.  Very soon after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, poking through the devastation, surprised scientists found green shoots.  Slopes of volcanoes have always lured farmers with their fertile soil.

 So, on this day, when I find myself amid the ashes of hopes, unemployed, watching the last remains of what I had thought would be a nest egg disappear, my prayer is that these ashes may prove a fertile place for growth, and somewhere down the line it may be said that the seed fell on good ground.  May it be so for all of us.


  1. Your look at ashes is very touching. Even in the middle of the country we felt so touched by what happened on 9/11.

    But Hope is always present in every situation. Hope is what urges us on to the future. And you, my wise friend, certainly have learned how to embrace it!!

  2. I think this feels like the beginning of a longer piece, perhaps one I’ve already seen, though it may need to be blended in. You write so well when you’re writing form the heart– this blog is loooooong overdue. Your technical acumen will carry you. I think you may still write a great novel. But just write, don’t WRITE– A– NOVEL. Make a passionate mess, then look at what you got, short stories at first, if you like.

    I understand why you’re hesitant, but I still fervently recommend U consider an improv class at some point. It will help your writing, and more.

    Keep doing your good work.

  3. “Ash is more than endings.” A good and wise reminder, for Ash Wednesday and every day.

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