It's been difficult to see - lining the streets in every neighborhood of our city - the carnage from the Thanksgiving weekend ice storms.
It's painful to know my sisters lost beloved oaks and profusely-productive pecan trees and to hear of friends whose wonderful old shade trees are now only insurance liabilities with neighbors' fences crushed beneath them.
We hear talk about "nature's way of pruning", but it is often sad, sometimes dangerous, and frequently costly.
Our yard boasts no significant trees - a crepe myrtle with a few snapped limbs is all we personally suffered - and perhaps that is what leaves me in a position to see the beauty in the ashes.
I've been scavenging.
A bucket full of holly branches, quite loaded with berries, from a curbside up the street.
A big armload of magnolia limbs from a nearby neighbor's yard.
A trunkful of evergreens, with pinecones still attached, laying in the easement near the exit of our subdivision.
Limbs from a birch too big to fit in the trunk.
A branch from my sister's pecan, another from a friend's fallen Chinese pistache.
And lots of bare, straight twigs.
I am hoping to give them back to the people who suffered their loss.
Perhaps in the shape of a wreath, maybe in the form of a centerpiece, some in the form of decoration for porch or pillar.
Right now, most of the greens are in water in my garage.
A few sprigs made it into my Fiestaware pitcher and are sitting on the kitchen table.
I cut the limbs from my Beeg Seester's pecan and my friend's Chinese pistache into discs and have been using my woodburning tool (for the first time!) to make ornaments for their Christmas trees.
And many, many twigs are being made into new trees.
Beauty from ashes.
I love a good redemption story, and I love this one most of all:
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons."
Thank God for Christmas.