A couple of nights ago Jill built a fire in the fireplace, and lit it as forty students poured in the house for a Bible Study. We had Jake’s birthday cake, coffee, and everything else we put on the counter disappeared. Quickly. Ever so quickly.
I laugh at one other point for building a fire in a fireplace with 40 students in the house. You either build it so hot that no one can sit with their back to it, or you never see it. If they can stand it, four or five students invariably sit in front of it blocking its heat and sight from everyone else.
Jill’s fire was kind and tepid so that five students absorbed the major brunt of it and three plugged the leaks by sitting on the floor.
The discussions roamed across laughter, silence, a few very quiet moments and deep to deep talking. We closed with prayers, vacuuming, cleaning, loading the dishwasher, lingering conversations and Jill and I finally squeezed in a walk.
We were greeted by Orion and his steady neighbors in their predictable, immutable places in the heavens and as we walked I smelled someone burning a fire in the fireplace.
As I made out the Seven Sisters, I flashed back to when Jill and I would walk when first married and renting a little two bedroom frame house next to a Love’s Store in Enid, Oklahoma. It was not the end of the world, but people on their way over to it threw their beer bottles over the fence onto our driveway and back porch.
We walked when cold the most and were enraptured by fireplace’s wafting their aromas out to us, beckoning to a day when we might own a house and it would have a fireplace!
So I laughed, staring at the Seven Sisters and trying to make out Perseus.
The fire I was allowing to send me back to a reverie was my own.
And I remembered that we had a small wish/prayer for those into whose homes we would try to peer or drink deeply of their fireplace wonder on those evenings so long ago: “I hope they are enjoying their little lives in that lovely home.” Jill’s: “I hope they are happy!”
Not only was it our fire, but, wonder of all wonders, the people in that house are happy.