Sunday, July 8, 2012


On an island with no garbage service or designated dump, piles of trash naturally grew up.  It would begin with a collection of fallen coconut fronds, and grow as weeds were uprooted and tossed in to die in the sun, along with fish bones, picked clean and white, and discarded coconut shells.  The rubbish piles mounded until they were over five feet tall, always at the edge of the village where houses met the sand.

Then, usually at night, someone would decide the heap had gotten big enough and set a torch to it.  The tropical sun makes everything brittle, and the great pile of leaves and organic waste, already scorched by the sun, was perfect fodder for a hungry flame.

With the night sky deep and dark overhead, the trash pile quickly roared into life.  Sparks, caught in the updraft, soared ten, fifteen, twenty feet above the ground in a swirling column.  The dancing light cast a vivid red glow on the children gathered around it, their naked bodies sweating and eyes gleaming as they flirted with the flames.  Once in a while an especially brave one would grab a burning frond and run with it.  It would wave above his head, a banner shedding sparks and ash on the dark sand, receding down the beach like an emissary to the night.

Sometimes I think that this is me, tossed in the heap and bleached dry.  But God's refining fire is beautiful, fierce and powerful.  The rush of His flames, coming from beyond myself, consumes and transforms me.  The fodder cannot tell the fire where to go, or how to burn.  It can only be.  The fodder has no perspective on its place in relation to the entire heap and the fire itself.  It can only be.  The fodder cannot even really grasp how the fire, the whole fire, looks.  It can only be.  It can only be still, and know that the fire ... IS.
"Be still and know that I AM God." ~ Psalm 46:10

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