The amount of incense smoke that darkens a temple’s ceiling indicates the popularity of that particular god. I learned this last year in Taiwan, and it’s such a beautiful image: the accretion of so many wishes, prayers, and confessions painted in ash across the centuries.

Lately I’ve been wondering what the accretion of faith looks like in my own life, the mounting evidence of my little rituals and routines. Perhaps this journal is something like that, the nightly act of fumbling through the muck of the day’s thoughts, trying to articulate something sensible while the world grows ever more unsteady. But I’d like to find something more poetic and tangible, something closer to ash.