Ashes – Personal Context
I’ve had a pretty memorable life, and I’m not finished yet. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve been successful. I’ve had very tough times. I’ve faced near-death situations and serious health challenges a few times. I’ve been on the top and on the bottom. And I’ve endured through it all quite well, in spirituality and in life-awareness.
That is the backdrop to what the poem and video Ashes is all about. …The poem and video that I present in this post.
Obviously, I use the word ashes figuratively. It represents the ruins that I had to dig through to discern that the transformative journey that I traveled was ultimately a blessing.
I authored this poem years ago and decided to turn it into a video just recently. I wanted to convey the message visually. In the video, I am conveying my life journey, as well as the undoubtedly tough journeys of others, whose lives were transformed by difficult circumstances.
I’m speaking to those who have persevered through extraordinary life trials, and who ultimately became stronger, wiser, and more discerned by enduring until they attained victory. …Coming to the realization that what they perceived as a curse, was actually a blessing. …And accepting that trials are orchestrated specifically for them to experience. This is the mindset that I had when drafting the poem, Ashes. I am even deeper in that mindset today than I was back then.
Sifting through ashes is about finding good in exceptionally tough situations. It’s about the forks in the road, between accepting or resisting what really is. …About how life’s trials can lead to willingly surrendering to truths about oneself, God, and life in general.
Sifting through ashes is about finding oneself in a vulnerable place, thinking that the worst will happen, only to find out, after rising from it, that you are much stronger, much wiser, and you’re permanently elevated spiritually, to a higher level of existence, by having braved through most unfathomable life trial(s).
Sifting through ashes is about how life’s trials can be spiritually transforming.
“It was only recently that I realized that my Dharma, my purpose in life, is being fulfilled through my lessons, wisdom, and through all experiences, trials, pain, and disappointments included.” ~ Kevy Michaels
Sifting Through Ashes For “The Answer” – Through Spiritual Transformation – Kevy Michaels
I had been meaning to complete this video, Ashes, since 2021. I completed it on May 23, 2022. Thanks to those who gave me feedback on the original poem.
A pastor friend and I discussed how those who go through the most difficult trials, are the most faithful Believers. I am one. And, on my journey, I have met some of the most spiritual people in the midst of or after experiencing trials and tribulations, like me.
The poem (and video), Ashes, are for those who have found spiritual elevation through life’s toughest trials, realizing that transformation was well worth the journey of their challenges. I target the poem to those who experienced life, not those who only read about it.
I hope that the video and poem convey the message that I am trying to explain here. It is not easy to explain, nor will it be easy for everyone to understand. But those who were triumphant over their trials will understand.
This is a salute to all of those who have endured struggle and who are proud of their final victory. And, by moving beyond the journey, they’ve become elevated vibrationally, knowing more about who God is, and who they are. Blessing ~ Kevy Michaels
Examining The Message in Ashes
This post is about much more than just a poem, Ashes, that I turned into a video. It has a much deeper message that only certain types of people will understand. The common characteristic of those who would understand are those who have endured seemingly insurmountable trials, and who gained the discernment of knowing that those trials were actually their greatest blessing. When I say trials, I mean life or death, hope or hopelessness, fight or surrender types of trials. The ones where it seems that no one is there for you, but the only one who really matters, God.
Obviously, authoring the poem and producing the video, I consider myself to be that type of man. I have faced death, hopelessness, and surrender. I have been transformed and enlightened by those experiences. Through trials, I experienced a deeper intimacy between my spirit, and the spirit of God than I ever have!
During my transformation process, triggered by life challenges and struggles, I spent a great deal of time alone in prayer, meditation, and nature. I had to isolate myself so that I was not distracted by the world. I desired peace. Through storms, I attained it.
Through my many trials, there were a few when I was at rock bottom, not in an addicted or drug-related way, but at rock bottom physically, in health, and spiritually. I found myself in financial, spiritual, health, and relationship ruins. I felt hurt and shame simultaneously.
But somehow, I was transformed into a new man through the process, one whose primary objective now is to serve God, in accordance with his will for me. My faith has been transformed. Now I believe in miracles. I’ve experienced them! Unexplainable blessings do occur just when I needed them most!
I wrote the poem Ashes after I had successfully made it to the other side of despair while ill, and caring for my dear mother Eunice, who eventually died from cancer. I especially use the word successfully because my thinking and spirit were transformed through this process. I learned the common patterns of human behavior. I learned to appreciate being alone, especially in nature, and most of all, I developed an intense relationship with God, who seemed to be my only friend.
The ashes that I sifted through for years left me with no real option but to embrace God and seek ‘the answer’ namely to ‘Why was this and the many other trials in my life repeatedly occurring.’ Why?
I never received a direct answer, but I did ultimately accept that I was meant to be in each of these trials because each made me incredibly stronger and more discerned. They led me to love myself, to not strive for acceptance, to believe in miracles, and to unearth creativity that I never knew that I had until I began writing about my life of trials, to share the good news with others. Interestingly, my mother Eunice described her life as a life of trials too. She did so until she ascended.
The video to the poem Ashes is not just for me. The video especially shows images of people from various levels of society as they endured trials. Though our challenges are daunting, they are not as significant as is the reward of gaining knowledge of self, life, others, and God in a downtrodden Life Season. These lessons are transformative. They were for me, and some have expressed the same sentiment to me.
The lessons that I learned on my journey will never allow me to return to the man that I once was. I will always embrace my trials and view them as valuable contributions to my spirit today.
Ashes Intended Audience
I have listed the characteristics of the poem and the video’s intended audience. I fit most of these characteristics myself and attribute them to my spiritual transformation:
- Those who feel that they have been transformed spiritually by experiencing life itself.
- Those who are warriors through the past trials or one that they are currently experiencing
- Those who have overcome chronic health issues, defying odds
- Those who have cheated death, especially those who have more than once
- Those who are proudly spiritual, but who are generally not religious
- Those who practice metaphysics or who may meditate and pray regularly
- Those who are included in judged and marginalized communities, including immigrants, LGBTQs, minorities, felons, addicts, alcoholics, handicapped, etc., in spite of circumstances, feel that they have been reborn. All of them are worthy to be true spiritual believers.
- Seasoned souls who’ve gained enthusiastic wisdom and discernment from life’s challenges
- Those with a sense of faith so strong that they feel urged to express it and exemplify it
- Those who admit to their mistakes without shame, but rather with pride
- Those who care for others, who have placed another’s well-being before their own
- Those who love themselves, and are not bashful to proclaim it
- Those who are amazed by God’s creations and by God’s presence in their lives
- Those who believe in miracles
The Inspiration Behind Ashes
The concept of using ashes metaphorically originated from a quote that I read, maybe over 20 years ago, in the book The Way of the Wizard, by Deepak Chopra. It took time for me to determine that the quote, “When you look in the ashes, look well “, originated from this book.
At first, I thought it was from Mother Teresa, but I wasn’t able to find anything from Mother Teresa related to the quote. I also thought said by Mahatma Gandhi, but I had no luck there either. I did find that Nikki Giovanni is quoted as saying, “it is not unusual to sift through ashes and find an unburnt picture.” It is the last line of the poem, The Women Gather. It essentially expresses the same sentiment as in my poem.
I just recently determined that the quote came from Deepak’s book in preparation for this post. I did not realize, having lived by this principle for years, that reading this book over 20 years ago had such a profound impact on me.
“The Way of the Wizard presents spiritual lessons that help you transcend ordinary reality by creating a shift in perception that opens the mind to the value of spiritual transformation in everyday life.” ~ Deepak Chopra – You Tube – Deepak Chopra Way of The Wizard
When I recoined, “When you sift through ashes, look well,” I was in the midst of pretty tough trials. I remember being pretty sick, and my mother was frail, as I was taking care of her. And I couldn’t understand why I was in such ruins. I asked God repeatedly.
The message that I received in return for my query was, “look well in the midst of this; there are blessings, something God wants you to treasure in the midst of these ashes,” in this trial
After I initially drafted the poem, I revised it, as I continued to spiritually evolve, for over about 8 years. Recently, instinctively this life principle came to my attention, so I decided to produce a related video.
I include various social classes in the video because it’s insignificant exactly what ashes they sifted through in order to find themselves and God. As I mentioned, people that go through the toughest circumstances, including cancer survivors, alcoholics, addicts, and felons, have turned their lives around, and become transformed through the process. There are many people who endure and became victorious from the very journeys that converted them into the truest believers and the most faithful.
I’m speaking for others but I’m also speaking for myself in this work. As I sifted through ashes, looking for an answer, I went through various stages of thinking and emotions. In the beginning, I wasted time feeling sorry for myself. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t have time for sorrow. I had to keep moving forward.
At other times, I held strong resentments. I not only had resentments against others for not being around when I was in despair, though they were around during the good times. I resented myself for the choices that I made that may have contributed to my circumstances. I also felt hopeless. But primarily, I felt alone, only having God, but still without God’s full understanding.
I don’t know exactly how to explain how I felt, but after experiencing the stages of spiritual change, I felt a spiritual connection and anointing that assured me that everything would be okay, without me demanding from God, how? I no longer cared to understand Why. I simply surrendered, without question.
When I reached surrender was when I reached victory. That’s when I began to see that miracles were real and that they were possible, even for me. That was when I also realized that it was not my job to figure out outcomes, and how things will unfold. It is my job to simply believe and trust God.
As I sifted through ashes, looking for the answer, the answer that I was seeking was to the question, “What is my purpose God?” and “What do you want me to do in the midst of this crisis?” I’m still seeking answers, but I’m trusting more in the meantime. This experience has elevated me above most things that used to stress and trouble me.
I’m grateful that I’ve gone through my trials because it’s priceless what I gained from them. I’ll never forget what I went through. It’s not the kind of experience one can forget.
Though I try my best to explain, the poem is not for everyone. What I’m trying to say to those who may relate is that I reflected on incredibly challenging circumstances, seeking understanding, and my faith through that process, led me to find my true self, God, and how I was elevated above the noise and distractions in life. Kevy
Ashes – Poetrimony
Searching for the answer
I cut my heart
On random pieces
Of broken glass
It bled all night long
But healed the next day
So, I sifted some more
Still, to find my answer
And soiled my hands
In toxic waste
…on remnants of
Seeing the ruins made me cry
But the tears cleared away poisons
And moistened the ground
Allowing me to dig
A bit deeper
I sifted well, this time
Searching for the answer
I dug up
Sprouting from bountiful soil
Nurtured by Love
Piercing through cracks in the land
I felt so comfortable
That I rested there for a while
Dosing off before long
Now it’s here.
That I’m planted
In God’s unfiltered light
…Thriving in fertile soil
…But still preceded
By ashes and ruins
Breaking Down Being Spiritually Transformed After Sifting Through Ashes
In many of my posts, as well as in my general language, I say that I have been Spiritually Transformed. That means different things to different people. For most, when a person is spiritually transformed, it is related to religious rituals or practices. For me, being spiritually transformed, simply means that I have developed a more intimate relationship with God, and with myself, my spiritual self over my ego.
Here are the emotional and spiritual stages I experienced while being transformed through trials.
Emotional & Spiritual Phases of Transformation
- Feeling Helpless & Hopeless
- Wasted Time
- Asking Why Me?
- In Resentment
- In Hurt
- In Shame
- In Fear & Worry
- Cleansing Through Tears – Crying
- Prayer, Meditation, Nature
- Conformation – Seeking Understanding & Studying
- Acceptance & Non-Resistance
- No Need to Understand Anymore
- Acknowledging The Beauty of The Journey
- Welcoming Trials as God’s Blessing
- Continually Digging Deeper Within Myself
- Peacefulness in the Midst of Chaos
- Wanting to Please God Most
In The Aftermath of Sifting Through Ashes (Post Spiritual Transformation)
This is how being Spiritually Transformed has changed my Life in several ways:
- Always Meditative/Prayerful
- Continually Searching for New Revelations
- Keenly Focused on Visions
- No Longer Need Approval from Others
- Friends & Family Came Secondary to My Spiritual Journey
- Finding Peacefulness When Alone
- Alone, Immersed in Nature When Most Peaceful
- Frequently Creative Visions Appear
- No Longer Driven by Money, Greed, or Lust
- Acceptance of God’s Will Whatever It May Be
- No Longer Need to Understand How God Operates
- Belief In & Attentive to Miracles
- Absence of Fear & Worry
- Becoming More of My Spiritual Self – Releasing My Ego Self
- Spiritual Transformed – A New Man
The Way of The Wizard – Lesson 14 – Page 96
“Wizards do not grieve over loss, because the only thing that can be lost is the unreal.”
“Lose everything, and the real will still remain.”
“In the rubble of devastation and disaster are buried hidden treasures.”
“When you look in the ashes, look well.”
The Way of The Wizard – Lesson 14 – Page 100
“When you can begin to see the seeds of opportunity in the ashes of disaster, then trust is beginning to grow. This trust comes in stages.
First, start to see that the ego’s judgments about loss are false. “Pain isn’t the truth,” Merlin said. “It’s what mortals go through to find the truth.”
Second, look for the other face of disaster or loss, the tiny seed of the new that wants to be born. “When you look into the ashes,” Merlin advised, “look well.”
Third, replace blame and complaining with a calm, sure knowledge that you are protected in natures plan—whatever you have lost is temporary and unreal.
It was bound to go, not because nature is cruel and indifferent but because every step you take toward the real is precious. In this light you will begin to see that loss and gain are just a mask. Underneath is the steady light of the eternal, which shines through everything, weaving unity out of chaos.”
Deepak Chopra Quotes – From Deepak Chopra’s The Way of the Wizard:
“No matter how hostile the conditions, life is inextinguishable.”
“When you can begin to see the seeds of opportunity in the ashes of disaster, then trust is beginning to grow.”
“Seekers look into the crises that most people shun because, from hurt or failure or disaster, one can seize the deepest truth.”
“Step into a world where fear, violence, and destruction are reflections of our own mistaken beliefs. In the light of trust, as it develops slowly over time, you will find that you are a privileged child of the universe, entirely safe, entirely supported, entirely loved.”
“There isn’t a single thought you can have that doesn’t send back some result.”
“Does it ever occur to you that you can’t lose anything because you never had it in the first place? The only thing you’ve ever really had is yourself.”
“Memories of shame, guilt, rejection, hatred, resentment and other unloving feelings cannot be converted to love. These images are what they are. Accept them and move to a higher sense of Self, which is unconnected with memory.”
“Welcome all losses, even the ultimate loss of death.”
“In a world of change, there must be gain and loss.”
“Look beyond your limited self to see your unlimited self. Pierce the mask of mortality.”
“The nature of life is to contain both chaos and order. You must first be chaos before you can be a dancing star.”
“There are many ways of releasing old energies. One of the most powerful is simply to acknowledge that they are there.” Read More
Nikki Giovanni Video Poetrimony – The Woman Gather – Nikki Giovanni [1975 Soul / Poetry] – Feb 26, 2019 – Martin Radio
I wasn’t familiar with many of Nikki Giovanni’s poems. I’d heard of one of them call ‘Ego Trippin.’ I knew that she’s had popular books, and albums, and received literary awards. So, I started listening to her videos, including interviews, and a Ted Talk.
Nikki is a very honest and personal poet, who expresses feelings that everyone understands, but normally keeps to themselves, often set to gospel, R&B, jazz, and soul music. She is a storyteller that provides imagery and pure emotion in her works. She’s really cool and relatable, speaking with unique freedom that could only be expressed by a Black American woman.
Nikki was my second inspiration create the Ashes video. Since she is such an inspiration, here is her 1975 album, The Way I Feel.
The Women Gather
by Nikki Giovanni
The women gather
because it is not unusual
to seek comfort in our hours of stress
a man must be buried
It is not unusual
that the old bury the young
though it is an abomination
It is not strange
that the unwise and the ungentle
carry the banner of humaneness
though it is a castration of the spirit
It no longer shatters the intellect
that those who make war
call themselves diplomats
we are no longer surprised that the
unfaithful pray loudest every Sunday
in every church and sometimes
in rooms facing east
though it is a sin and a shame
So how do we judge a man
most of us love from our need to love
not because we find someone deserving
most of us forgive
because we have trespassed
not because we are magnanimous
most of us comfort
because we need comforting
our ancient rituals demand that
we give what we hope to receive
And how do we judge a man
we learn to greet when meeting
to cry when parting
and to soften our words at times of stress
the women gather with cloth and ointment
their busy hands bowing to laws that decree
willows shall stand swaying but unbroken
against even the determined wind of death
we judge a man by his dreams,
not alone his deeds
we judge a man by his intent,
not alone his shortcomings
we judge a man because it is not unusual
to know him through those who love him
the women gather strangers
to each other because
they have loved a man
it is not unusual to sift through ashes
and find an unburnt picture.
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