My husband asked, “Why now?”

I don’t have an answer for him. Maybe because they’re all dead or closer to death than they’ve ever been–all the people I thought should’ve protected me back then. Maybe because I’ve lived long enough to understand grace and forgiveness? I don’t know why all of this gunk from my past is bubbling up now. Maybe because writing didn’t help, it only suppressed and allowed survival and maybe painting allows me to fully live? Maybe because clearing the dysfunctional relationships from my life has allowed me to stop being dysfunctional myself and has cleared the way for real healing?

All of that? None of it. I don’t know.

I’m reading a couple of books on healing. I’m about halfway through both. I’m taking it slow on purpose.

Burning my journals was a huge step for me.

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But then I took it a step further.

I took part in my own private Ash Wednesday ceremony on a different day of the week. This same day I had this overwhelming realization. I don’t think God care which day I did this or who put the ashes on my forehead or even that the ashes weren’t from the palm fronds of the previous year.

They were the ashes from years of misery and suffering.

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I put them on my forehead and prayed for the redemption of those years.

I sprinkled them on my painting. Rubbed them in. Moved them with my fingers and my brush so they’d become part of a new creation. A beautiful creation born of suffering.

The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.

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Beauty instead of ashes.

It’s the cry of my spirit.