What’s Inside –
This afternoon I burned old collected limbs which had fallen this past winter. Along with twigs and branches, there was a stack of large limbs that I cut up last year when part of a big tree was torn down by a thunderstorm. They had finally dried out enough where they would burn quickly. It didn’t take long to have a large fire burning brightly and hot! After a while, there wasn’t much left of the burn pile but red, orange, and blue scorching ashes. Before heading to the house I took a water bottle that was almost half filled with water and laid it on the hot embers. I watched as it shrunk, popped the top off and melted the places of the bottle where there wasn’t any water. However, where there was water the plastic didn’t melt. I watched as the water inside began to boil but the plastic wasn’t consumed. Because of the water inside the plastic didn’t melt outside. It was awesome to watch and wait to see how long it lasted. Finally, of course, the water evaporated and the plastic shriveled by the flames but it took longer than it should have given the power of the heat and flame.
It was a wonderful reminder that what’s inside; our spirit, emotions, mentality, don’t just protect what can’t be seen but also protects the outside, what we can see; our health, bodies, and relationships.
On Saturday afternoon I burned a pile of branches, old newspapers, and other miscellaneous items. The smell of the ashes and leftover debris lingered in the air the next day. I had forgotten to grab an old wooden rocking chair out of the reading room which also needed to be disposed of. When I noticed it Sunday afternoon I wondered if the smoldering ash would still be hot enough to do anything. I took the chair out, broke it into several pieces and put some under the coals, which were still a faint orange, and put the rest in a pile on top. I checked it after a while and noticed the smoke had increased. About an hour later the wood was ablaze with a good flame. It didn’t take long to consume it once the fire restarted. Not too long afterward the chair was gone.
I wrote last week about the struggles I have when February rolls around. Many years have passed but the layers of hurt, anger, and uncertainty still lay buried, ready to ignite when fuel is added. What I try to do, instead of dwelling on the past, is not feed the flames. When I am aware and notice my mind drifting back to the place of pain I find a place to breathe. I close my eyes and take deep breaths. I remind myself of the truth that I cannot change the past but I can be present in the now. Does it always work? No. Does it work? Yes. Maybe one day I will be healed, maybe not, but I don’t want to give up on living today because of the difficulties of yesterday.
A Scent of Hope –
In the summer our Lemongrass (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbopogon) come in many beautiful shades of green. They shoot up to the sky, ever so bent at the top, reaching heights of almost 6 feet. They are wonderful. If you break off a portion of the blades or are in the vicinity, you can smell the lemon. In the late fall, before winter, now, they turn a bland shade of brown, droop over and are unsightly. When they look like this it is time to trim them. What once was a gorgeous herb is now kindle for the fire.
One of my chores today included trimming the Lemongrass in front of our backyard wood fence so Beth can hang her garland for the Christmas season. As I grabbed each plant near the ground and cut away at the dying, dead herbs my mind and spirit filled with thoughts of the summer, my favorite season. Once I had finished I raked all the brown blades into a pile and set it ablaze.
As I stood there, watching the flames grow higher a familiar scent filled the air. It was the lemon from the Lemongrass burning. I inhaled and was both brought back to the summer now gone and the summer to come.
Wisdom tells us that there are seasons of life which we enjoy basking in the warmth and the light. We are blessed and receive the gifts which come with open heart and open hand. Wisdom also teaches that no season of life lasts. Everything is in transition. All things which come, go. Sooner or later we find ourselves in a dry, cold season. The blessings and gifts are but memories. We watch as what we held dear burns in the flames of adversity and find ourselves digging through the ash after trials by fire have done their worst.
It is then, if we are mindful, centered, focused on the truth that this too will pass, the scent of a new season will fill our spirits with the hope of tomorrow.
About Last Night –
Yesterday evening, I sat in front of our fire pit and thought about all the chaos which was happening in our elections. I didn’t watch TV or know the election results until I woke up this morning. I was surprised by who won but not surprised that either one of them lost.
Out of 300+ million people in our nation somehow we possibly chose the worst two to be eligible for president. Maybe that’s an over-simplification but I do know the relentless negative campaigning, neighbor yelling at neighbor, hurtful and wrong things said to each other behind the disguise of social media; people telling each other why they’re wrong, misguided or just dumb, has worn me out. So last night I couldn’t bring myself to keep up with the results nor hear, read, more unkindness, acrimonious name-calling.
Today, I’m still exhausted from the worry of the past 18 months and the new anxiety of next 4 years. No matter what side you fall on, the realization that our world is going to hell isn’t a surprise. No matter who sits in the oval office they have an incredible and indescribably difficult and dangerous job leading our nation and the world. I don’t envy them but I do hope and pray that beneath all the bluster and campaign promises, foolish words, immaturity, asinine behavior, there is a man who allows the weight of it all to settle on his shoulders. I pray the weight will drive him to his knees and turn arrogance into humility, rivers of words into silent wisdom, a growing realization that to save our nation he will have to sacrifice who he is, at his core and from those ashes will rise the leader we all need, not the one we got.