Submitted by Kim Woody

Picture credit: Murray Lowe,

A year ago, Australia was reeling from the chaos and destruction caused by a deadly bushfire season, the worst of which lasted from September 2019 to March 2020, scorched 18.6 million hectares of land, and killed upwards of 3 billion animals. The landscape and its wildlife were left in ashes. So much glorious flora and fauna of that “Great Southern Land” had been turned to dust.

And yet, against all odds, life has emerged in that place once again. New grass rising from the blackened dirt. New shoots of life pushing through the charcoal bark. In fact, many of the eucalyptus trees which Australia is known for have evolved over millions of years to develop fire adaptive traits, such as re-sprouting new growth in the aftermath of fires, ensuring that the land and its creatures will endure.

Most of us have experienced chaos and destruction in some form in our lives, some of us especially in this past year. We are all too familiar with the ashes and dust left after circumstances come sweeping through and take away things that we cherished, that nurtured us, that gave us life. Almost every day we are reminded that life is so fragile, here one day and gone the next. But life is also resilient. Against all odds, it finds a way.

Wednesday this past week marked Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the forty days of Lent in the Christian calendar—a time of reflection on mortality and the fleeting nature of life. During Lent, participants are encouraged to reflect on the words of the ancient saying, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” It is not coincidental that this season precedes Easter, the day that Christians celebrate Jesus Christ’s rising from the dead. Because, in the end, life always finds a way. Out of ashes comes new growth, and the cycle of life begins again.

And so as you reflect on the “ashes” in your life, may you be inspired to look for the tiny buds of life that have begun springing up, ready to blossom and start life anew.

Note: This Lent season, we welcome you to make use of the Chapel spaces for prayer or meditation. If you are at St. Paul’s Hospital, you are invited to participate in the Stations of the Cross prayers you will see displayed on the walls.

This page last updated Feb 19, 2021 5:43pm PST