(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once when I was fourteen, I was awakened by an orange glow in my bedroom that cast shifting patterns of light on the walls. Frightened, I quickly sat up in my bed and looked out the window. Behind our house, a very large old barn that had stood on the the remainder of the farmstead that was now being turned into a vast subdivision was in flames. I watched with eyes wide as the flames raged with loud crackles and hisses, sending glowing embers and smoke high into the air.
There was no great concern that our house was threatened by the fire. The barn was at least 300 yards away and none of the embers were falling near to us. Yet I couldn't help but think about the possibility of losing our home to a fire--losing everything I owned, my parents owned, and our refuge of security and comfort.
My mother used to tell the story of when her family's house burned down when she was still a young girl. She was at school on the playground. The children could see the smoke from the fire in the distance. One of the boys teased her that it was her family's house burning Later my mother was informed that it was the house where she lived that had burned. When she got to the home site she saw that there was little left of the place.
Later, a man who was known about town as a drunk and who had sunken into an errant life came to my mother's family with his story of change. After the house fire, he had looked among the ruins and found on the fireplace mantle a small Bible, lightly singed but otherwise intact. This discovery caused him to evaluate his life and decide to change. He had given up alcohol, and now reconciled with his family was intent on living a useful life. He thanked my mother's father and returned the Bible which eventually ended up in my mother's possession.
Another artifact of fire that I recall seeing when I was a kid was something that one of my friends showed me. My friend's father had a rectangular mass of nails that had been melted together. His father had found them after a fire at a business place. The nails had apparently been inside of a box which had acted as a mold to keep the contents intact after the box itself had burned away. The individual nails could still be seen, but they had been fused into the permanent shape they now held.
I would never want to experience the loss of my home or any of my possessions through a fire. Losing everything I own seems so devastating. Yet people survive these losses and start over. Perhaps there is a certain sense of being unshackled from the binding nature that possessions can hold upon us.
A fire can purge, fuse, or free us. Fire can give us light to help us see, give us heat to make us warm, or unleash energy to provide us a comfortable lifestyle. The flames might be controlled or might be a destructive force gone wild. Fire can be many things but hopefully we are never burned by it.
Do you have a fire in your life that is threatening to go out of control? How do you control the fires that are burning in your life? Is there a fire smoldering within you that you need to let burn?
Be here Monday May 7th for my A to Z Reflections for Tossing It Out. Watch for the Linky list at the A to Z Blog so you can add the link to your Reflections post.