Today I had to go through some documents, sorting out in preparation for moving house. I came across a letter written to me by the ex-husband, from prison. It read as if it was all a storm in a teacup and he hadn’t really done anything serious and assuming my eternal sympathy. This was after his conviction and after I’d begun divorce proceedings, around the same time as my solicitor stunned me into silence by saying that he had requested a ‘legal separation’ or whatever it is called, because ‘he and I were both Christians and didn’t believe in divorce’. It was a last-ditch attempt to try to control me. Unbelievable…

I couldn’t remember why I’d kept it. I think it was because at the time I was trying to get him to sign the house and car over to me. Anyway, when I came across it again, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to tear it into pieces, shriek obscenities or disdainfully ignore its existence. Frank came into the room and saw my face. I muttered that I’d like to burn it. He disappeared, and came back with a metal bowl and a matchbox. That’s my Frank 🙂

I finished my paperwork and took my bowl into the garden. It took me about half an hour and a dozen matches. And as I looked at the transformed pile of grey ash, I kept thinking of the words from the song by Kathryn Scott

‘I’ll trade these ashes in for beauty

And wear forgiveness like a crown…’

Our little jazz-riff blackbird burst into song from a nearby tree and I looked up into green and sunshine and drifting clouds and endless sky. And suddenly I realised that the past is dead. Ashes. And I want to live – you know, life in all its fullness, just like my name, Zoë, (ζωή in Ancient Greek). I don’t think I was given that name by accident. I don’t think it was coincidence Frank has always loved that name, to the point of hoping, if he ever had a daughter, that he might call her Zoë.

We’re moving 100+ miles to a totally new place and it’s the biggest adventure. It’s as if Jesus is holding out his arms and saying “Come with me!”

I can’t wait. 

‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted…
to comfort all who mourn,
     and provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.’

Isaiah 61:1-3

Picture below from