Wet Wood, Dying Embers

I’m a fan of chiminea fires in the fall. I have a special little place in the backyard that I call my fire grotto, where I spend as many crisp yet still comfortable, idyllic fall evenings enjoying the popping and crackling of a good fire. But we’ve had a lot of damp and rainy days this past month, making for wet wood. Not the best kind of wood for roaring fires, but I persevere. Like tonight.

Most of the time, the wood bested me, its soggy surface a better match for producing thick, murky smoke rather than dancing flames. Instead of pops and cracks, I was getting low whimpering hisses and asthmatic-type wheezes. At times the smoke seemed like fog had settled over my grotto. In truth, it seemed a little too close to how I myself have been feeling lately, as though my faith walk has been hindered by a fog of uncertainty with some things I have going on, and which I seem to be stumbling through rather than seeing my way clearly.

As the sliver of moon rose above the shadowed treetops in my backyard and the ruddy gold western sky transitioned to a muddled pinkish-orange, and then to lavender hues, the wet wood succumbed at last, and burned brightly for a while. I sat still, asking God to be with me as I contemplated my tepid faith of late, until the fire died to embers.

For several minutes afterward I remained, sitting in silence, watching as hot spots in the embers spontaneously ignited, creating a burst of flame and energy, the pattern happening over and over against the backdrop of my now dark backyard.

It seems now a simple enough message: there always will be periods where we are asked to make something from less than optimum conditions; there will be times when it seems futile to even try.  And yet, we must, especially during periods of drought or excessive rain in this earthly life, because there is something we are meant to learn. Even wet wood can be reinvigorated, reignited, if we have the patience to keep our fires stoked and wait for the smoke to clear.


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