by founder, Kristen Welch

I pulled up to my church and looked through the window and I saw a miracle:

Every fair trade item perfectly placed in the new Mercy House Global Market, ready for it’s grand opening.

I, mean, this second retail store didn’t exist a month ago and now it does.

It’s beautiful, I thought.

But as soon as the thought formed, it was replaced with this one: A terrible kind of beautiful.

How fitting that we opened a store that empowers impoverished and oppressed women around the world on a terrible beautiful day: Easter.

We are Sunday people. We love the end of the story. He is Risen! We love the result, a glorious Sunday morning that brings us to a Savior. It feels beautiful, like the perfect ending to a sad story. But the process that gets us to Sunday means we have to go through a bad Friday that is really quite terrible. It includes betrayal, suffering, cruelty, injustice and death.

And it’s the story of every product we sell at Mercy House.

It’s easy to see the the pretty patterns, the bright colors, the intricate details, the unique design, the perfect color of fair trade product and forget that behind every single bracelet, necklace, tote bag, coffee mug, apron and purse is a person with a heartbreaking beauty from ashes story.

And this terrible truth: Ashes represent death, suffering, pain and loss. They represent a mother who cannot provide a place for her children to sleep, a teenager who prostitutes for food to feed her family, an oppressed woman who has no rights and isn’t valued, a trafficked young woman who only knows abuse.

It’s a terrible kind of beautiful.

Maybe you know a little bit about this kind of beauty. I do. I have stood on the ashes of my marriage and my dreams and I have cried bitter tears and wondered how God would create something from nothing; a somebody from a broken nobody.

“Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man,” Dostoevsky.

As I looked over our lovely battleground–the intersection of the tragic and triumphant–I straightened the Stackabilities made by women I have actually held in my arms and rearranged market totes sewn by people I have wept with in person.

And you know what I realized? Beauty is —even more beautiful— because of the ashes. And we get this holy, holy chance to behold how God creates something new from something non-existent; something precious from something painful; something holy from something unholy; something beautiful from something broken.

Yeah, terrible is the best kind of beautiful.