She hears us moving around in the kitchen and her ears perk up under the porch. I know because as soon as the door opens, she is out of there in a bound, up the steps, tail wagging and ears pointed to the heavens. Her people are coming out to be with her, I am sure she thinks. To be truthful we do enjoy our time with her too, tossing treats and watching her scamper around to find them like a fuzzy red-headed vacuum cleaner. But the real draw is that final cup of coffee—the lazy cup, where we sit and talk and watch the morning break around us, sunbeams filtering through the eastern woods, birds fluttering around the feeders, and hawks screaming overhead. Sometimes we are treated to a few deer creeping out of the woods, a fox snuffling through the scraps we throw over the fence, and once, a flock of eleven wild turkeys who decided all of sudden that maybe they should fly after all. What an amazing sight that was!
We especially love the cooler mornings of fall, winter, and spring, when we can build a fire to warm our toes while the coffee warms our innards. The fires are growing smaller these days as time marches inexorably on and summer approaches. Trust me, no one wants a fire in Florida after the first of May!
One day this past winter, after Keith had gone on to an appointment in town, I picked up a small chunk of wood and threw it on for just a few more minutes of "lazy time." I should have known from its light weight that the wood was nearly rotten. It turned out to be not only damp, but totally saturated as well. When I threw it on a perfectly good fire that gave off a hot and steady flame, immediately the blaze dimmed and smoke began pouring out of the wood like a thick, gray, wool blanket. The flame gamely burned on, doing its best to keep up and catch the old log, trying to bring it to the same level of blaze. After five minutes I knew it was a lost cause, so I grabbed the poker stick and rolled the rotten piece off the fire. Immediately the flame increased in size, strength, and heat. Once again my toes were warm, and the smoke had dissipated.
And that made me wonder about me. I am no longer a young woman. In log terms, I am just about as old as that piece I had thrown on the fire. So how do I affect the young Christians around me? Am I so wet and rotten with age that all I do is dampen their enthusiasm, sending up clouds of "smoke" as I complain about their ways, about the changes in things I have grown so comfortable with that they have taken on the feel of "law" to this tradition-bound mind of mine? And much more startling to consider, if someone rolled me off the fire and tossed me to the side, would the church be better off?
Do I keep them from accomplishing the mission I once worked so hard for simply because they don't do it "my way" anymore? Do I keep the light from reaching others just because I don't like the new lamps that have been chosen?
I can still work as an individual, using the methods and materials I am comfortable with on a personal level. No one has any business telling an old log she doesn't matter to the Lord any more. But surely I can avoid putting out the fire in the hearts of the next generation; surely I can encourage them as they take over the majority of the work now, cheering them on instead of stifling their enthusiasm. This old hoary head only deserves their respect when it helps instead of hinders.
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and she had been a widow even unto fourscore and four years), who departed not from the temple, worshipping with fastings and supplications night and day .And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks unto God, and spoke of him to all them that were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38)