June 26th—a day that will conjure up emotions even when I forget the day on the calendar.

Like a built-in clock in my cellular structure, my body remembered the trauma.

Last month marked the 5-year anniversary of the Waldo Canyon Fire of Colorado, a fire that left 347 families homeless and thousands temporarily displaced. I tried to shake off my grief. It’s been five years. I’ve rebuilt and moved on. But, my heart ached and a grief cloud settled over me and demanded my attention. I thought I’d feel like celebrating recovery with the others at the commemoration event at the park, but instead I reflected alone on the days of the fire.

Five years ago, I wrote about the day I danced on the ashes. 

The Day I Danced on the Ashes

Journal Entry August 2012


I held my knees to my chest and stared at the rubble of my burned home. The removal of the ashes was the next day. My heart ached knowing the tangible evidence of my memories would soon settle in a  dump.

Dance on the ashes. My quiet thought prompted me.

That’s crazy. No. I shook my head grasping a handful of slate colored dust, my beautiful house reduced to this. I’m not dancing on the ashes. People will laugh. I glanced around, people walking their dogs and cars going by.

I am not a singer or a painter, but a dancer, yes. Much had been taken from me, but the expression of my heart remained. Dance on the ashes. I told myself. Several times I stood and sat down, afraid someone would see me.

My need to proclaim victory over devastation won the argument. I stood, blasted my music, and danced. My inhibitions melted with each step. This was not just a dance, but a release of pain and an infusion of strength at the same time. My inner being shouted, I will overcome. Even if it all burns, I will stand and declare my faith. “Great is my God!” The words of the music seared truth into my spirit. With every step, the broken glass and debris crunched beneath my feet. The sound echoed—a reminder that beauty will triumph, even when brokenness screams.


When circumstances turn our lives to rubble, sometimes the only thing to do is dance on the ashes.


Adapted from an excerpt in Fire of Hope: Finding Treasure in the Rubble and What’s-Your-Story-Waldo Canyon Fire Colorado by Johnny Wilson The Day I Danced on the Ashes by Shauna Hoey pages 24-25



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