Saturday, December 17, 2005


The house is cold, and I'm the first one up.

But I know what to do. Dave sat me down in front of our first woodstove, eighteen years ago, and showed me how to arrange the logs and start a blaze.

Then, when we built this new house and I begged him to release me from wood chips and smokey burps and trails of sawdust, he relented ... and showed me how to flip the switch on our new, fake stove.

When the price of propane chased my finger from that "on" switch and made me miss the mess and smell of a real fire, he relented again and fixed my mistake. He laid a moss and amber-flecked slate hearth, cut an arched entrance into the fireplace alcove, overlaid it with river rock, then fitted a brand new, massive, Country woodstove inside. And then he sat me down for a fire-starting refresher course.

This morning, I'm prepared. I kneel before the slate hearth and turn the silver-coiled handle. The glass door squeaks almost indiscernably as I swing it open. Inside, I find slim pickins. On the left, two fat, dead chunks lie cold and useless on a bed of gray. One lone, sliverish log lies on the right, with only the barest of orange glows flickering on the ash side. I've caught it just in time.

I pick up the scooper and begin the gathering. The long, barely alive piece offers no resistence. It's alarmingly light. The two chunks are heftier, but stone cold. I slide those next to the longer piece. Then I arrange two bone dry slabs of wood on either side, and one thin slab on top of it all. Inside the V-shaped cave, the makings of a fire await.

I search the hearth until I find a handful of dry wood slivers. These I prop against the small orange glow. All that's left is a breath. I lean in close, fill my lungs, and send a stream of hope into the dark space. One breath, two, and on the third, a burst of gold flame chases the last of the blackness. In just that fraction of a second, fire is reborn.

Soon, I'll be warm.

Oh, God--make us live again. Gather us close. Make our shoulders touch, and our arms, and our hearts. And then, when you've pulled us in tight and huddled us as one ... breathe.

Our God is a consuming fire. --Hebrews 12:29

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11 Comment:

At 12/17/2005 3:02 PM, Blogger Sharon had this to say ...

Hi Shanny,
Loved this post.Steve and I both love wood stoves,fireplaces,etc.And your moss with amber flecked slate hearth sounds lovely.Steve and I also love slate and big stone fireplaces.Definitely a priority amenity if we are ever able to buy or build a home.It's been really cold here lately in town.Though grateful for our electric heaters they do not have the same ambience as a fireplace or woodstove.Thanks for sharing your warmth with us.:-)Oh,btw,speaking of warmth.Have you tried General Foods International Vanilla Creme hot beverage?No caffeine or coffee in it and I love it for that.It's really delicious too!
Love,Sharon G.

At 12/18/2005 4:46 AM, Blogger ~m2~ had this to say ...

as one who has a fondness for woodstoves and, especially, warmth - this was lovely.

the ending is what does it for me though. perfect.

(by the way - i just got your book in from amazon.com and am waiting for the hurriedness of the holidays to settle in with it. i am excited :)

At 12/18/2005 8:45 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman had this to say ...

Shannon, we heated our little house with wood for the last five years. The stove held the heat so well, and our bones were warmed. Like you, I sometimes breathed life into the fire. Then my wife bought me bellows as a present. We moved this year. I miss the wood warmth. I don't miss all the work, splitting wood, stacking it, trying to remember to feed the stove before the fire calmed farther than we wanted. Setting a thermostat just isn't the same. I loved your piece, all the details, and the ending. Breathe, Holy Bellows upon us!

At 12/18/2005 11:13 AM, Anonymous Mandi had this to say ...

I love the song "Consuming Fire" by Third Day. The lyrics are :
Set this place on fire
Send your spirit, Savior
Rescue from the mire
Show Your servant favor

Yesterday was the day that I was alone
Now I'm in the presence of Almighty God

and yes our God, He is a consuming fire
And the flames burn down deep in my soul
Yes our God He is a consuming fire
He reaches inside and He melts down this
cold heart of stone.

Set this place on fire
Send Your spirit, Saviour
Rescue from the mire
Show your servant favor

Yesterday was the day that I was alone
Now I'm in the presence of Almighty God

Repeat chorus

Did you realize that inside you there is a flame?
Did you ever try to let it burn?

At 12/18/2005 7:59 PM, Blogger Milton Stanley had this to say ...

Glad to hear you've got a real stove again. My wife and I opted not to have one in our new house (too many sinus troubles), but it's good to be reminded that we can add one if we just can't stand it any longer. All the best.

At 12/19/2005 12:14 PM, Blogger Bill and Glory had this to say ...

Thank you for reminding me why Bill and I enjoy our backyard fire pit so much. Alas we cannot enjoy a real stove in our home. Something silly about manufactured homes going up in smoke like a little box of matches.

We are surrounding ourselves with our church family again, this season, so your words "Gather us close. Make our shoulders touch, and our arms, and our hearts." hold a deep meaning for me.


At 12/19/2005 1:52 PM, Anonymous crickl's nest had this to say ...

Loved it....I will think of God's breath renewing the fire in our souls every time I'm stoking ours this winter!


At 12/19/2005 8:14 PM, Blogger Cora had this to say ...

This was a great post, Shannon.

You know I can relate. There is nothing like the warmth coming from your wood stove. I love coming home to a toasty, warm house after the fire has been going all day. The beautiful rocks around it really add to it. Especially since it was done by husband's own hand.

Thanks for reminding me of cherishing what God has given me!

At 12/20/2005 7:34 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Sharon--No, I haven't tried that particular flavor. I'll have to do that. :)

Hi m2! Thanks for getting the book and for letting me know you got the book. :) Hope you enjoy it. I'm waiting for the hurriedness of the holidays to end, too. Seems every year I vow the same thing, but every year, I'm as busy as I could possibly be. But next year ... :)

Wayne, that was my same thinking when I talked Dave into the propane stove. I was just tired of all the mess. But I have to say, I welcome the mess right now because we're so warm. Bellows, huh? I'll have to keep my eyes open for one.

Mandi! That's one of my favorite Third Day songs. Gives me chills.

Milton, I like your new picture. I should probably update my own, too. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Hi Glory! I'm glad to hear you're drawing close again. :) And I agree about those backyard pits. We have one, too, and there's nothing like hunkering down outside and warming yourself while leaves are drifting all around you. It's a little cold right now, but we sure enjoyed it this fall.

Hi Christie! Nice to hear from you. Hope you have a restful Christmas.

Cora, your mantel is so beautiful. I'm sure you're very proud of Chris. He's quite the handyman!

At 12/20/2005 6:08 PM, Blogger Macromoments had this to say ...

Hi Shannon,
This is one of my favorite posts. You write description like an artist dripping
color on a canvas. You can take an ordinary topic and turn it into something extraordinary--something that follows readers around and make them think all day.

LOVED the message behind your fire-lighting! Have a wonderful Christmas, Shannon. Thanks for the way you encourage so many through your creative gift.

At 12/27/2005 12:45 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Bonnie, you always say the most encouraging things. Thank you for that very kind comment. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas too! Bless you, friend.


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