Where there is smoke . . .
Skies thicken with ash. It’s hard to see and harder to breathe. Windows closed, we pray for rain. Light candles.
Fires are ravaging Western states. Videos on the news appall us.
We pray for firefighters, military support, and volunteers. I’m told 30,000+ workers are battling flames as I write this post. More will join them before you read it.
Prayers rise for families. For homes and farms and dreams. For wilderness and places of business.
An overnight wind scours local air. But for how long?
Grateful, I open windows and see a sparrow bathing, inches away.
Such delicate yet athletic sounds, the tiny ker-plop of immersion and wet abandon.
Small feathers slough water the way I want to shed fear.
Our home is surrounded by fields of stubble and towering pines oozing pitch: Fire Bait.
All kinds of fires lick at our lives . . .
My surroundings often carry a message for me, especially when I’m afraid or sad or distracted. When I quiet myself to observe and listen closely, a parallel meaning suggests itself.
And here it is: Lately, my To-do List generates its own heat—which doesn’t compare to wildfire devastation except for this: I’m losing ground. And it scares me.
Having recently immersed in blogging and social media, the learning curve still feels aerobic.
Curiosity kicks in and ignites creative energy, which sparks more ideas . . .
It’s fun! It can also mess with my boundary governing work and rest.
Anyone else ever throw yourself into a waterbed only to bounce the love of your life over the opposite side?
I throw myself into projects. Enthusiasm? check. Commitment? check. Spiritual incubation time?
um . . .
Right now I’m like a kid with a crush when it comes to Facebook. I wake up wondering who posted, who responded to my last post.
“Likes” quench a writer’s parched ego. (Don’t stop, friends . . . just pray for me, will you? To borrow a phrase from sailors at sea, I’m still finding my cyber legs.)
Meanwhile, too much “doing” muscles out my contemplative time. I get cranky. Distracted. (I get distracted anyway, just entering a room. Why am I here?)
So back to the birdbath . . .
Two inches of water, enough for one dusty sparrow, a bath like a party. I love these sounds and try to name them.
Plosh! Dipple! Splish and flitter . . .
Even made-up verbs fall short. What occurs to me is this: It’s easy to merely dabble in soul-worthy downtime, rather than diving in. Dip the proverbial toe, wade in to the knees, swish a hand around. Or . . .
Keep re-learning how to embrace “oasis.”
Honest connection with God helps me work smarter, more deeply. Learning curves, emergencies, travel, changing needs and schedules will always require adjustments of balance.
How about you? To begin afresh, we could emulate one little bird’s wholeheartedness. Then, refreshed, plunge into today’s tasks.
No matter how small, no matter how common, even the errands we run offer us chances to commune with the God of fire and rain.
What if, for this one day, we live so attentively and gratefully we edge out fear?
And what if, for this one day, we simply begin to imagine what a protective “fire line” between work and rest would like for us?
“[W]e went through fire and water,
but you [Lord] brought us to a place of abundance.”
—Psalm 66:12 (NIV)
MAKING IT PERSONAL:
What threatens the balance between work and rest for you? How will you respond?
Here’s what I’m praying today:
Help me immerse in you, God. Wash away fears and regrets over yesterday and wasted dread over tomorrow. Re-settle my feathers. Better yet, tuck me beneath a wing. Amen
Most of us can’t bulldoze a fire line. Nor are we asked to brave the inferno. But we can pray for those who do and find ways to help them.
TO AID FIREFIGHTERS AND EVACUEES, VISIT:
- Make a donation online at www.redcross.org (select “Your Local Red Cross”)
- Or call 1-800-Red-Cross
- Light a candle, pray for rain