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, while burning some debris in the yard, I went to grab a stick which was near the fire but not burning. My intention was to put it in a more advantageous position. However, as I grabbed the still cool end of the stick a single burning piece of ash fell right where I placed my thumb. I quickly dropped the stick and began shaking my whole hand the way someone does when they burn themselves. For the past several days I have had a reminder of the encounter, a blister on my right thumb.
The blister is a reminder of the randomness of life. A second earlier or later and I probably wouldn’t have burned myself. In the same way, we often see the haphazard events of our lives. A moment before or after and there’s no car accident or more or fewer injuries in it. A doctor’s appointment a month or two earlier or later and a disease is detected or too far advanced to undergo treatments. A moment premature or delayed and we miss a relationship we cherish or disdain.
Whatever life brings our way there are remains that stay with us. Whether positive or negative who can tell? The most we can do is be aware, open to new experiences and cautiously protecting our souls.
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.