“…unravel the threads by the fire-light…”

I sit out on my front porch, hastily scribbling prosings to myself in a faded, weather-beaten notebook, as the winds howl all around me and shake the tall tree limbs in creaking groans.

Before me the evening’s fire burns low, its ashen gray embers glower with the passage of each windy heave. The night is dark, illuminated by the warm yellow glow of my porch light and the distant purple sparkle of streetlamps. Stars glimmer through the crackling tree branches, the spaces between growing greater with each swirling falling leaf.

My feet rest on the edge of the fire, still enjoying the subtle warmth, even as my collar has long since been turned up against the chill. However, my thoughts are just as warmed by its gentle flickering as my feet. I close my eyes against the roar of the train, its distant shake numbing my senses into a torrent of furious clacking and steam-whistle bellows.

The thought of thirty-five Winters returns to my mind in the burgeoning silence…  thirty-five Winters is what I said when my son asked: “How many Christmases have you had?” This answer, I do not think, was entirely sufficient to his curiosity but I dismissed him upon its giving, for he had the small matter of bedtime toiletries to concern himself with before adjourning for the night.

Only moments later was I reading a book to my wee babes as they too fell under sleep’s spell. The book concerned talking animals and a wise old owl, his wisdom prevailing against the panickings of his wilder peers. Whenever I would speak as the owl in the story, I would affect the soft dry intonation of an elder man. An old man with gnarled, wrinkled hands, and careworn eyes.

Thirty-five Winters. My dog-eared almanac informs me the proper Winter is still a good fortnight and a half away but tonight it feels as much like Winter as it has in many months. It is, indeed a damp and drizzly November in my soul. Tonight is the crescendo of a rising motif echoing behind my ears for the last few months.

“A strange loneliness has encircled me with each passing week…” is the line at the top of the page, and it is no lament. I have felt, increasingly over the last year or so, more unto myself than I think I ever have.

The multitude keen inward, their words and faces surrounding and echoing, and yet I feel alone…  as in the eye of a great storm. It is not an unpleasant solitude, merely a curious one.

Storms break and bawl, fire rage within the hearts of many, the earth shakes with fear…  but I do not feel the Lord’s presence in these things…  then comes the great yawning quiet. A low gray hum fading into a dark whisper, and then, in a thin silence, He whispers.

My words, read back out aloud ‘gainst the quiet, waver and flow like the leaning and elegantly looping penmanship that carved them into the paper.

So many threads and tendrils of thought and action are being woven into a brocade tapestry…  a great wending that propels me forward, hurtling toward infinity, with each exhale of breath.

Thus for now will I sigh, and content myself to unravel the threads by firelight.


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