Smoke and Wonder

Tonight the neighbor across the street built a fire.  While I never saw as much as a flicker of flame, it mesmerized me.

A fall evening is one of my favorites.  Being at home for an evening also strikes my fancy (maybe because it doesn’t happen so often).  When I get both (fall evening and night at home), it’s a treasured thing.  Tonight, I got both.

To enjoy this wonder, I went on a stroll through the neighborhood.  That’s when I saw the fire.  Or, kinda saw the fire.  As I crested the small hill near our place, I literally stopped stock-still in my shoes.  Across the street was a glimpse of glory.  Smoke from the neighbor’s fire was floating into the nearby pasture and colliding with the low-lying afternoon sun that was streaming through the trees.  This collision created a magical land of color-tinted mist.  It was breathtaking.  It truly was.  The outline of trees, the long fence-line, the silhouette of the house and barn – everything added to this picture of pure wonder.

I didn’t want to miss the view, so I decided to mow the lawn so I could enjoy it a little longer.

And I thought about how perspective changes things.  Being too close to smoke burns the eyes like Dixie.  But standing back, it creates something that stops me in my tracks.  Fire destroys; really, it signifies death, but from a distance, it can create a masterpiece of a show.

And I thought about fires in life.  I thought of sorrow, fear, poverty, death, loneliness, sickness, pain, hurt, rejection, fractured relationships – the list could go on and on.  Up close, the fire burns and burns and seems to kill and destroy.  But what if the smoke is creating a bit of what I saw tonight?  What if it’s a showcase of hope to the passerby?

I want that to be true of my fires.

And then I thought of all the good things about fire.  About how one of my favorite things on earth is a circle of chairs filled with people I love around a blazing fire.  A time of friendship, communion, joy, relationship.  Can the smoke from my relationships, my joys, my mountaintops also create a thing of beauty that directs those around it to the Maker of this beauty?

I want that, too.  In joy and in pain, in sickness and in health (sounds like marriage vows), may the smoke from the fires of my life be carried on the wind and collide with His light to create beauty.

Perspective changes the way I feel about fire.

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