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.

H. Arnett



About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Blair, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-five years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-one grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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