Gazing into the fire

blogIMG_0200What is it about a bonfire that is so mesmerizing?

One of the advantages of living in the country is that we can build fires right in our own back yard. 

As the hot, sultry days of summer relinquish their grasp, nights here become cooler and cooler, a sure sign that the fall season is imminent.

On a chilly late summer evening, sitting around a bonfire with family and friends does more than warm our bodies; it warms our souls as well.  In the past, many nights of fun and fellowship culminated around a blazing bonfire right here at mama’s empty nest.

Last evening, hubby and I attended a corn roast hosted by friends who live even deeper in the country than we do.  The unobstructed view of rolling hills, farmers’ fields, and woods from their home is breathtaking.  When we arrived, fresh sweet corn, grown in abundance in our area, was already roasting in its husks in the bonfire’s hot coals.

A fire-roasted cob of corn, slathered in homemade butter, is deliciously finger-licking tasty.  A smorgasbord of other homemade side dishes, salads, and casseroles; grilled hamburgers and hot dogs; and a table full of enticing desserts lavishly tempted our palates as well.  A feast, fun, and fellowship with people of all ages – toddlers to those in their golden years – provided a lovely evening.

As the sun set behind the hills and the chill in the air became more pronounced, several party-goers gravitated to the crackling fire.   Lawn chairs inched closer to the comforting warmth.  Someone broke out the marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey chocolate bars for s’mores.

There was teasing talk, with a hint of truth, that the marshmallows might attract the bears in the area.  More laughter and marshmallow toasting and roasting ensued.  But some of us just relaxed contentedly in our chairs, participating in quiet conversations, and gazing into the flickering flames of the alluring bonfire.

Varying shades and hues of orange, yellow, red, purple, and bluish fingers of fire flickered and flashed over the wooden logs burning so steadfastly in the flames and glowing coals.  Fiery figures danced and sashayed to their own tune, switching direction as the breeze dictated, blowing woodsy smoke in our eyes.

And still we sat, eyes fastened on the fire.  And watched… entranced.   And were captivated by the blaze.

Too soon the hour grew late and party-goers started to disperse leaving with satisfied tummies, light hearts, and the distinct smell of wood smoke lodged in their hair.  Yet hubby and I lingered, fascinated by the spellbinding flames and burning embers,  somehow hesitant to leave the glow of the firelight.

We finally gathered our belongings, not wanting to “wear out our welcome”  (as my mother would say), thanked our gracious hosts, and started homeward.   As we drove in the quietness of the inky dark countryside, dodging nocturnal critters (raccoon and opossum) right and left, a Jeremy Camp song came to my mind.

“Holy Fire burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me.
Empty me,
Empty me.
Fill, won’t you fill me,
with you, with you, Jesus.”

Today as I ponder this on a beautifully warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, I conclude that mama’s empty nest isn’t really empty.  It’s full of love – love for my husband, love for my children, love for my family, love for friends I have and friends I haven’t met yet, love for my fellow man, but completely full of utmost love for my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sometimes gazing into the fire reveals great truth.

“Love is the only fire that is hot enough to melt the iron obstinacy of a creature’s will.” ~ Alexander MacLaren, English minister



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