Some time late in the previous century,
or maybe not so late as it might seem,
a previous owner (or his hired hand) cut down the tree
that stood at the northwest corner of the property.
Perhaps to avoid the harder cut
just above the ground
or perhaps because he knew something
a bit more obvious at that time than now
he left a stump eighteen inches tall
and about that wide across.
Years of gray and decay
stripped off the bark
and continued the hollowing of the inside
clear down into each large root.
I scooped out the loose as well as I could,
poured in kerosene to soak.
I made a fuse of sorts
out of newspaper,
stuffed it into the hollow
and set it on fire.
It burned for a few minutes,
but not the overnight I’d expected.
Not only had the stump failed to catch,
half of the newspaper lay un-scorched.
I realized that the way I’d stuffed it in
had blocked off all of the air.
I lifted it back out
and set it so that half the hole
was still open into the bottom of the stump.
Re-lit, the whole thing surged into burning.
Without the wind of the Spirit,
the fuel of faith-intended within us
to fire the works of love-
will never fan into flame.
We should not end this walk
in this world
only slightly charred
at the easy edges of unspent devotion
but rather so thoroughly given
and so thoroughly used
that at our leaving
all has changed to ash.