Ash Wednesday

“Leave the past in ashes.”

What I really want to tell you is—I feel an ache in my heart that gives me no rest. Meet me here.

Ashes are the aftermath of burning, an indiscriminate consuming heat returning all it touches to a homogenous chalky black. Ashes that inaugurate a season of purification and readying to receive the light of new life at Easter. But first, there is dying.

As a double-adoptee, I‘ve endured multiple dyings and resuscitations. A shapeshifter, clay for the molding, my history and identity were reduced to ashes twice so that I could become someone else’s someone. What could ashes teach me now? What dying must I undergo to become living light?

I’ve come to learn that no one can fill this heartache of irreparable loss that I carry. Yet I drove myself to despair believing that filling this emptiness was the point. Now I know: this ache is unfillable, insatiable, empty, void. No point.

No point, except for this—

Plunge into the emptiness, pierce the heart of loss. Just don’t make this journey alone. With compassionate company, set fire to a lifetime of longing, fantasies, hopes and fears, and the impulse to resist or flee from the pain. There is nowhere else to go, no hope of escape. This has always been true. Let that be okay. Sink deeper into the freedom of finally letting things be as they are.

Do you want to know a secret? This barren desert of the heart’s lament conceals a hidden fertility, this ashen night soon to be quenched by light. Wait with me here. Wait for the coming dawn.

Originally published in the Adoptee Voices March 2022 E-Zine, “On Paper”

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