Wick and Stick

I really like candles. I love how they bring a flicker of light and sighs of relief in a power failure; how they brighten the table and seem to usher in the holy when we sit down to eat. I love the atmosphere of calm they bring in to any room in which they glow. I marvel at how just one or a few can warm a room, and I always enjoy and soak myself in their welcome and warmth.

Before dinner, not long ago, I was blessed with a moment of reflection as I traced the stream of wax gracefully gliding down the side of the smooth pillar candle on our table back up to its wick:

The same fire that came at the striking of the match was that which lit the wick of the candle, and each produced rather different effects and results.

Two different compositions: wooden stick – rigid, brittle yet porous, and unprotected to the outside elements swirling within the room; and cotton wick – soft tightly woven strands anchored at the bottom and within an encasement of pearly white wax.

Two different compositions, two uniquely distinct materials within two different environments touched by the same flame.

When that flame ignites upon the match, it’s as if the combination of its porousness and the elements surrounding it seem to set it up to be rapidly devoured and consumed. So within a few seconds, the whole of it disappears either in a puff of wind, or as it is whipped about before it reaches fingertips, or fizzles out in last gasp and charred cinders at its last in the sink.

The wick though burned down to the surface of the cold wax. But no sooner was a hole bored than it was filled, and the wick continued to burn, consumed more in a rhythmic dance of harmonious relationship – replenished as much as replenishing the molten liquid in which it soaked, warming as much as being warmed by its core, its heat radiating outward to seep and waft into the world around it.

A heart, hard and stubborn, exposed and vulnerable yet resolute in resisting dependence on Provisional Flame; a heart shining brightly, but only once and only briefly. And a heart soft and willing, secure in its Anchor and protection, ready and welcoming of the chance to withstand but only briefly, to shine bold and bright, long and lasting.

But the house of Israel will not listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me; because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.
(Ezekiel 3:7)

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go.” (Exodus 7:14)

heart-of-fleshMake me as the wick, Papa! Anchor me deep in you and surround me on every side, so that when your Fire comes to purify, to clean out the rubbish and debris, I welcome replacing all with your Light; so that I continue to delight in the knowledge that I will never be consumed, that I am free to touch and warm others, for you replenish me. Make me to always be reachable and teachable and eager for relationship with you, and soak me in the pools of your Spirit so my natural outpouring is willingness and availability. Make your Flame to ignite your Light to burn away all thoughts and attitudes and behaviours that have held me back. Make your Flame to extinguish all worry so that I claim your promises for myself, and proclaim them through your warmth in me to others. Make your Glory and delight-filled purposes to shine perpetually in and through me!

You know, I found out something pretty interesting about what remains behind when you blow out a candle that just doesn’t seem to compare with the same for a match. Apparently, the trail you see from its wick is not really smoke. No, that wisp actually contains remnant particles of wax that haven’t yet burned, and that remnant can be lit anew to relight the wick of the same candle, or another. (http://dailym.ai/2kq8gMl)

Interesting, isn’t it? And maybe even a bit encouraging .. just maybe a promise?

“You make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers.”
Psalm 104:4

Soil and Seed

Celebration – Gratitude, Grace & Glory

seedtime-and-harvestThe table groaned under the weight of the fare upon it. Roasted turkey, golden and crispy with a ruby red collar of cranberries. Gravy boats brimming with creamy and silky caramel-brown sauce. A tumble of glistening steamed vibrant carrots and French beans with tanned almond slices. Brussel sprouts piled high with crispy bacon chips. Mounds of steaming creamy-soft whipped potatoes. Heads bowed as Grace was said. “Amen.” Platters were passed around the table, and each of the many plates filled as we expressed gratitude for someone, something or some event in our lives. Oh Father! Really! How utterly blessed we are!

Amidst the clatter and chatter of the clean-up following, I was struck with the thought: Why do we thank?

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
(Psalm 50:14)

Yes indeed, we thank as an expression in word, or in act, in gratitude for a provision of some kind. In fact, we’ve been taught since knee-high-to-a-chick to always remember to thank. And so we should, I believe. But I’ve come to think for reasons more than just being polite. And yes, there are a whole host of benefits that accompany thankfulness. In fact, according to Amy Morin, contributor to Forbes Magazine, scientific research has proven that there is definitive physical, social, physiological and psychological benefits to thankfulness (http://bit.ly/2coJ6ay): better sleep, increased empathy and reduced aggression, and of course, better relationships to name just a few. I wonder though if all these benefits aren’t birthed of something more going on; something supernal that erupts from inner recesses of the garden of our spirits and souls.

I wonder. What is really happening, what is really going on when we express what bubbles up from our deeps, or act upon what fires up our hands and feet to move to thank? Could gratitude and thankfulness actually be a form of transcending affirmation of holy connection, of existing relationship with our Father, an offering of worship, that unbeknownst to us, is sparkling and bobbing to the surface? Could it be that these cousins of joy very directly connect us with our Gardener, our God, our Father? Could we be travelling a glistening road toward a more rounded, organic and complete relationship with Him when we thank?

Psalm 104Gratitude must be birthed somewhere, must originate deep in the belly of our being, our spirits. And expressing it, just as key to ignition, must somehow discharge a spark that animates a hum that mysteriously breathes more life into, and expands to fill, the furnace of our faith, enlarging our spirits and beings with inexplicable joy and praise and wonder.  And if we fan the flicker and flame of thankfulness, I wonder if it doesn’t also crowd out, or even extinguish self-righteousness, selfish expectation and entitlement, and other sinful attitudes that could infect, damage and sabotage.

Could there then be hidden within thankfulness blessing and nourishment not only for the receiver, but the giver as well?

To remain grateful, it would appear, helps our hearts and mind to avoid hardening, to slip and slide on arrogance head-long into judgement and self-centredness. Thankfulness, it seems to me, shifts the focus from my self-seeking planned-out wants that elude me over there in the distance, to remaining rooted in the present and its many many blessings. Gratitude and thankfulness keeps my heart in the now-relationship with God, and keeps me from veering onto the harmful byways that eventually steal my peace away.

And what about when, but all outward appearances, it makes no worldly sense at all to be thankful, to express an iota of gratitude? Could it possibly be that my spirit and faith expand even more when I choose to be gracious in the midst of those circumstances? Could it be that gratitude and thankfulness is actually a facet of the diamond that is faith, and in those moments of tethering to the power of unseen belief, that power sweeps us up above the circumstances to live in confidence, (in victory?) whatever the outcome? Could it also then … make it easier to forgive?

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
(Colossians 3: 15)

Let your roots grow down in him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
(Colossians 2:7)

Choosing to be grateful and to have a thankful heart must benefit the growth of the sacred within, which can’t help but permeate outward into our bodies, and manifest as an inviting fragrance beyond. It must open wide communication with our Gardener, connecting us and augmenting our part of relationship with Him, nourishing our fellowship with Him.

And I wonder if there isn’t joint joy found in appreciating and sharing in the delight of His provision, in experiencing His captivating gladness and pleasure in providing for us, and we in our delight and thankfulness to receive.

Oh friends! Let’s tiptoe onto the dance floor of the mystery of thankfulness in a position of shared thrill with our Gardener to dance close and tender, with newfound nearness and rapport with Him! Let’s take His outstretched Hand as He sweeps us up in His delighted and lavishing Love as we offer our little gestures of recognition of His incredible Grace! Let’s share in His joy and pleasure, His captivating gladness in providing for us!

Let us always be thankful – and grateful!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.
(Hebrews 12:18)

Soil and Seed