The Lesson Of the Ash Tree


My friend Sam was telling me about the morning he sat looking at an ash tree. He saw the passing of time, the strength, the resilience.

“From an ash tray?” I asked. I was thinking of looking at my mother’s ash tray: the passing of time, the strength, the resilience.

We both laughed.

I’ve been looking at the cigarette butts and the ashes in her ashtray for half a century. I have always braced myself, sitting there, but over the years, I’ve learned many spiritual lessons. Just as many (perhaps more) as I might have received from sitting and looking at an ash tree.

You can look at anything: the ugly and the beautiful, the sinner and the saint, the joy and the sorrow, and learn something.

Our job is to look for the spiritual messages. That’s the miracle. That’s how we grow.

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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5 Responses to The Lesson Of the Ash Tree

  1. No truer words have been spoken, Diana! Lovely 😀

  2. The Lesson of the Ash Tree/Ash Tray is what children’s writers call a story with a duplicable activity and a take-away message. Very teachable.
    There was a sweet old woman in our church while I was growing up, and she was nearly deaf so she sang VERY loud…we”re talking megaphone level. She sat two rows behind us, and often after each service my mother would listen carefully to the things I said or the words I sang. I always needed correcting because I said and sang what I’d heard, and it was wrong…and sometimes embarrassing.

    • dianabletter says:

      Marylin, There’s always one loud voice in the crowd! It’s like the nagging, negative voice in our heads–best to ignore it…
      Thanks for writing!

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