Whether or not you believe in Ash Wednesday, or God, or whatever, I think this is a wonderful sentiment. A dear friend has been sending this along for close to 10 years now and I look for it every year, and I too pass it along to others who look forward to it too. Like a mantra it's worked it's way into me and is something I think of at times, especially these past few years as I've moved and struggled with feeling terribly alone--like a prayer, this has given me strength and hope. 

"...It was Mr. Gold who counted time and eventually spoke first.
'Jacob, where do you find the strength to carry on in life?'

'Life is often heavy only because we attempt to carry it,' said Jacob. 
'But, I do find a strength in the ashes.'
'In the ashes?' asked Mr. Gold.

'Yes,' said Jacob, with a confirmation that seemed to have traveled a
great distance.
'You see, Mr. Gold, each of us is alone.  Each of us is in the great 
darkness of our ignorance.  And each of us is on a journey.
'In the process of our journey, we must bend to build a fire for
light, and warmth, and food.
'But when our fingers tear at the ground, hoping to find the coals of 
another's fire, what we often find are the ashes.
'And, in these ashes, which will not give us light or warmth, there
may be sadness, but there is also testimony.
'Because these ashes tell us that somebody else has been in the night, 
somebody else has bent to build a fire, and somebody else has carried on.
'And that can be enough, sometimes.'"
--from Jacob the Baker, Noah benShea


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