We can catch fire


It started with a solitary shining crimson leaf a few weeks ago.

It caught The Daughter’s eye one morning as she gazed out the window. One leaf, a rich, vibrant red against the lush verdant green of all the other leaves on the tree.

A brilliant foreshadowing of this morning, when, as the thick fog lifted, and the sun cut through a thousand droplets of mist, our Crepe Myrtle caught fire.

I took my coffee outside and waited…

“We can catch fire.

Sometimes, in our chilled weariness with this broken world, we draw near to the fire of Christ intending only to warm our own cold hands and hearts.  

But as we draw close, we will be not only comforted but ignited.  That is the marvelous, dangerous opportunity at the heart of our faith.

We can catch fire. We can run like sparks through the stubble.

The apocryphal book of the Wisdom of Solomon assures us that we shall.  The souls of the blessed, it says, “will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble.”  We can burn with the renewing holy fire of God.  Not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of the world, for the sake of all people who sit in darkness and in cold.”

Sparks Among the Stubble, from The Praying Life: Seeking God in All Things, by Deborah Smith Douglas

So, in my chilled weariness, with my morning coffee and my bleary brain,
I sit next to the burning tree (barefoot – I know the rules).
I gaze, I wait, I watch, I pray.
Throughout the day I’m drawn to the window to get a glimpse,
to soak up the stunning brightness
of the glory in my yard.
The sun crossed the sky, and then descended;
and the tree burned bright all day, and the next day,
and for days and more days. I gazed, and waited and watched and prayed.

Until one day I didn’t.
The burning bush that warmed my heart and ignited my soul,
no longer commanded my attention.
When had the leaves begun to fall?
With painful regret, I couldn’t recall.
No longer awed, thankfulness exhausted,
It seems I had grown accustomed to the miracle in my yard.

R. S. Thomas, Anglican priest and poet wrote this:

The Bright Field
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

That is the task.
To keep our faces turned to the brightness of those beautiful and transitory moments of eternity, every day.

We can catch fire. We can run like sparks through the stubble. 

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