When I was little I loved to play outside. I would run and skip and jump and do all the things of childhood in an imaginary world all my own.
I would make cakes and gourmet meals with pine straw and mud. I would play house in the midst of trees as tall as I could see.
I loved outside.
I can still remember my Mama or my Mam-maw within sight, burning stray branches or raked up leaves. I remember the distinct feeling of warmth and cool covering my body at the same time. It was magical and therapeutic and I didn’t even know it. I would run barefoot, and surely I stunk to high Heaven by the end of the day, but it was a glorious feeling.
Sometimes for lunch we’d straighten out an old wire hanger, or find a real sharp stick and we’d place a wobbly cheap hotdog wiener on the end of it. I can still taste it, and while I’m not an adventurous eater, I’d be willing to bet few things culinarily compare. That’s how life works when you’re a child, I reckon.
The simple things brought healing and restoration. The hurt of the world farther from the mind than in adulthood.
The days of late have been difficult, progressively worsening and heavy.
That cool morning, I made my way outside accidentally, there was no level of intent other than to pick up the stranded paper wrappers and sticks dotting the premises.
Life had been especially difficult and I seemed to carry a burden that none could take. And even if they could, I lacked the voice to tell them how. My mind gets muddled and foggy when I am heavy laden like that. I struggle with figuring out what to do and in what order. Basics will often get ignored in those times, the basics of life like good nutrition, writing, ability to remember. Laughter is far from frequent and the words get lost. I find myself staring at the blank canvas of the computer screen, becoming frustrated with myself, slamming my hands down on the keyboard, and walking away angry.
That cool morning I was in just such a state, so the distraction of the paper scraps of debris left by the recent storm were a welcome sight. I managed to wander around and collect enough sticks to start a small fire. It was unintentional in my conscience, but maybe deep down long ago parts of me knew I needed that reminder. that something can be made from nothing in the hands of the Creator, that beauty will come from ashes, and that in the Refiner’s fire, albeit a painful and at times frustrating process, I can trust the end result to be beyond what I can comprehend or imagine.
I chose to sit by my fire, to watch the flames dance and to remember my childhood. I must have been smiling when my husband sat beside me, because he asked, “Whatcha thinking about?” We sat a while longer and the flames began to die down, the cool more prevalent than the warmth, when he said, “I wish I had something to do Matt Crawford method for that fire.”
I had no idea what he meant. I looked around and was not at all surprised to see our former neighbor with whom we had enjoyed many an evening fire, nowhere to be found. It had been many years since we had been neighbors and now they lived across the country.
About that time my husband brought a large plastic something and began to wave it rhythmically over the embers. To my astonishment the fire grew and the dying embers were now flames that began to rain down ashes.
Laughter rolled out of me as it looked like snow falling, and we were covered in ash in a most literal way, beauty from ashes. As he fanned the flame and it grew I was reminded again that the Creator can be trusted and even if the process is painful, tedious and slow, the healing will come.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God. 2 Timothy 1:6a