I often pray by burning things. It is the best way for me to tangibly let go of something and place it in God’s hands. Often I burn tea lights — one for each care. Other times I burn slips of paper in the fireplace. But now it is June, and I won’t be lighting any fires for awhile.
This morning, after I burned tiny blue Post-It notes filled with every fret I could name for the coming summer, I noticed how many ashes had accumulated in the fireplace. Had we ever cleaned it out ? Perhaps once. There are at least two winter’s worth of worries in there. I can even see burned scraps of paper. Other troubles have turned to dust.
So, this Sabbath, I cleaned the fireplace — shovelfull after shovelfull of ashes. Some of those difficulties still plague me. There are other anxieties I have already forgotten.
It’s a breezy day, and all the windows are open. It’s a battle to get most of the remnants of my prayers into the trashcan. The dog stands watch, curious. I must have never done this before.
One day every bit of wood, hay, and straw in my life will burn in a fire I cannot imagine. As 1 Corinthians 3 says, “The Day will bring it to light.” Will any gold, silver, or precious stones remain when that final sun sets?
Next week, I will buy more candles. My tiny sacrifice invites God to determine which parts of my life should disintegrate and which parts should endure. Without fire, I can’t tell the difference.