Sparks and Roaring Fires

Wind whipped branches into a frenzy and flung their few leaves to the ground. It was a wicked evening — the chill seeping through the glass of windows and french doors and sending me off in search of my sweater.

Before long my husband lit a match and started a fire in the fireplace. As the flames leapt from around the wood with a cheerful crackle, I instantly felt warmer. The room’s temperature couldn’t have changed in those few moments, but the flames’ impact was immediate. The apparent coziness chased away the chill.

During the evening, I stared into the flames, slightly hypnotized (is ‘slightly’ even possible?), and recalled summer evenings at our cabin when the air was still heavy with leftover daytime heat, and yet we dragged lawn chairs from the cabin’s deck down to the lakeshore to sit circled around a campfire. Toasting sticks appeared for weiners and marshmallows, and the little ones clamoured for ‘Smores. We shared a different kind of warmth in that family time together, and made memories to treasure.

Not long before that, the airtight heater in the kitchen of the little cabin was relocated to accommodate a new-to-us cookstove. Oh, the rejoicing when the fire was laid and the pan came out to create our very first cookstove meal. The men took turns poking the lengths of wood into a glowing heap as the cheese melted into gooey goodness and the bread turned golden brown. Yes, it was only grilled cheese sandwiches, but after 37 years without a real kitchen stove in the cabin, it was a momentous occasion.

Last time we were at the cabin, our first few days were spent in choking smoke from a forest fire. It wasn’t all that close to us so we weren’t in any real danger from it, but the smoke that obscured our usual view was part of a raging inferno elsewhere, destroying everything in its path.

I was working on this post, thinking about these various fires, when an e-mail arrived with a video about a “random act of culture” presented last month by the Philadelphia Opera Company in a Macy’s store. As I watched it I reflected on how this random act, like a tiny spark, had the potential for massive impact.

Such moments of unanticipated beauty, or perhaps the gift of a helping hand, a smile and word of encouragement, even the stories we so carefully craft with characters who live, fail, trust and overcome, may have unexpected impact on the lives of others. We may never know about it, but if we ignite the sparks, we allow God an opportunity to fan flames to provide light and warmth for those who may be in great need.

Have you ever given one of your characters the opportunity to do some small act of kindness, helpfulness or generosity? What difference did the gesture make?


Here’s the video I mentioned. I hope you have time to watch it.

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8 thoughts on “Sparks and Roaring Fires

  1. Jody Hedlund says:

    Hi Carol,

    I’m loving seeing you over on Twitter these days! Isn’t it a great way to stay more connected between the blogging times? And I love your idea of random sparks, setting them, and remembering that God can fan the flame. Sometimes I think we get caught in the trap of thinking, “What good will this one little act do?” And then we don’t do anything at all. But we can light the spark and don’t necessiarily have to be there for the bon fire. (Although that’s nice too!)

  2. Judith Robl says:

    Loved the Philadelphia Opera clip. I’d seen it before, but Handel’s Messiah gets to me every time. I attended Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas where the Oratorio Society performs the entire oratorio on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. They also perform Bach’s Passion According to Saint Matthew.

    Such wonderful memories! Such powerful music! Music does light a fire. Great post.

  3. christicorbett says:

    Carol,
    I love the sound and sight of a crackling fire. Sadly our new house only has a pellet stove instead of the lovely stone fireplace our last one had.

    Time to break out the candles to try and capture just a little bit of the image of a flame :).

    Christi Corbett
    http://christicorbett.wordpress.com

  4. patti says:

    Carol, I believe you’ve captured an integral element of a successful novel. SHOW in small (and big) ways heroism in your character. Yep, I’m doing it more and more.
    Blessings, dear one.
    Glad that fire burns on in your soul!!!

  5. joylene says:

    Your blog covers exactly what I’m going through in my novel right now. I’m doing more pacing than I should because I desperately want to interview an investigator, but I can’t because of the storm. Plus I have too many questions. Then it occurred to me that I should just do what I tell everyone else to do, jump deep into my character’s psyche and write from his perspective as a man not a cop.

    Thank you, Carol. Loved the video and the pix

  6. Thank you, Carol. I enjoyed the video as well as your fireplace and reminiscent stories of times gone by. We usually have egg and toast for breakfast, but this morning we had grilled cheese made with Jarlsberg cheese from Norway. My hubby is Norwegian. I especially enjoyed the story of the cabin, the cookstove, and the simple grilled cheese sandwich. Blessings to you…

  7. A lovely post, and I saw that video, too–wasn’t it spectacular? Wish I’d have been there to see it–I wept in joy watching it!

    Love
    Jen

  8. Laura Best says:

    A wood stove has been a constant in my life. There has never been a time when I didn’t have one. For us, in this community, it is a way of life.

    I loved this post, Carol. Your words are beautiful. 🙂

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