When I drive up from an appointment I see the smoke from a distance. Johnny is doing our annual burning of the floor of the woods. We are doing it a little earlier this year because Annie’s wedding will be here at the farm in April.
Burning out the floor of the woods is messy business. There is a lot of smoke and the dogs bring in the black ashes on their feet, but the results are beautiful. Every year our woods are more clear and clean than they were the year before. It is a controlled burn, meaning it is not done on windy or dry days, and Johnny and Chris are here to watch and tend it. It is a practice that has been a blessing in the long run.
It also creates really cool pictures.
Grabbing my camera, I ask my boy if I can photograph him amidst the ashes. He nods kindly. He knows the drill. I hunker down in the crackly black of the woods, the smoke filling my nose. I think about what a mess this is and what a joy he is all at once. My eyes water and strain to focus on the happy thought that sits before me. Ah, there it is again- the symbiosis of joy and pain, mercy and sorrow. My handsome son sitting peacefully amidst the chaos.
This world we live in? It is a mess. We walk through the murky mud of sorrow and sin much more than we thought we would have to. We track its black back into our hearts and homes and struggle to find one clean place to rest. We work so hard to get things right so maybe it won’t hurt so bad?
I talk to my Mama out loud today. I ask her why didn’t she tell me who it was that she trusted to clean her house, and which table should I move into the bathroom to hold the towels? And which pictures should I hang in the hallway? I tell her I am going to get it all wrong, because only she knew how to do everything just right. I yell right out that I wish she was here, and it feels like that smoke in the woods, and the crackly black on the bottom of my feet.
And then come the tears –the deep cleansing tears of mercy that wash away the hurt. The tears that remind me that God is so near to my broken heart. He is so near.
To those who are hurting? He is near to your hearts tonight.
John 16:33 ~ “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Psalm 34:18 ~”The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”