I stand on Johnston Ridge. Finally making the connection. The ridge is named after the volcanologist. Oh. Right.
She shows us satellite images.
Something catches my eye. The Indian paintbrush here on Johnston Ridge is different, and it takes me a second to figure out why. Ah. I see. Its minute crevices are caked with ash. Teeny tiny specks of gray cling to its leaves. I realize. This little plant didn't grow in spite of ash. It grew through ash. It took rich nutrients from the ash around it and transformed them into delicate beauty.
I think about my life. My places long devastated. Just like Mt. St. Helens, decades later my scars are still visible in some places. In gut reactions. In lifelong fears. In paranoia and obsessive compulsive behaviors. In chronic health issues. In PTSD.
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me... to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified."
~Isaiah 61:1a, 3
God gives beauty for ashes. He brings beauty from ashes.