The Swedish Candle and Other Blessings

By Marcy Barthelette

He provides rain for the earth, he sends water on the countryside. Job 5:10

It is Sunday morning as I write! A day for praise and worship! I have so much to be thankful for. These past few days, the heavens poured forth their bounty and every living thing breathed deeply of the smell of rain. Trees, grasses, and flowers soaked in every drop of moisture to rehydrate themselves after a long absence of life-giving rain. Birds flapped in reckless abandon throughout the yard wherever a puddle welcomed them. We, humans, had planned a camping trip but canceled, first because of impending heat and then of impending storms but also because of issues with the camper. We did, however, drive to the campground through pounding rain, of course, where our kids camped and we had planned to be. We spent the day, a good portion of it indoors, just laughing and talking and catching up. The night before a burn ban had been in effect, but the deluge of the morning had lifted the ban and we were able to enjoy a campfire. What’s a camping trip without a campfire?

You might ask, where did we find dry wood? The answer is simple. Our son-in-law had squirreled away a Swedish candle log in the back of his truck. This unique method of providing a lovely campfire is great for summertime use when you don’t really want or need heat but choose to enjoy the ambiance of a fire. Nothing beats a campfire for relaxing the soul and bringing folks together. The Swedish candle log is a simple device made by standing a good-sized log on end and making several cross-cuts with a chainsaw, two-thirds of the way down the log, to resemble a sliced pie on top. Three to four cuts will be good, dividing the log into six or eight fairly uniform sections. Remember only two-thirds of the way down, not completely through. Start a small fire in the center of the top with kindling or charcoal and watch the flames emerge like a torch. The fire burns from the inside out, fueled by oxygen from the saw cuts, and creates really lovely patterns in the log as it burns down and eventually collapses upon itself.

We all got a good laugh from our daughter’s slip of the tongue in referring to the cut log as a Roman candle. Our fire didn’t propel colorful balls of fire into the air, just offered a nice, relaxing end to the day. We were sorry to have sacrificed the complete camping experience butwere grateful for the good times we had.

As we were leaving the park, we happened upon a deer lying on the cool, damp ground relaxing and nibbling newly refreshed grass. A short while later the clouds of the day broke open to an amazing spectacle, one of those silver lining moments, so intense was the light against the cloudy gray background. It was a stunning reminder that God is always with us, in times of drought and in times of abundance. It came at the close of a week of losses in our neighborhood. One friend and neighbor ended his journey on earth while another moved into assisted senior housing. Other loved ones among us are dealing with family loss and serious illness. Our heat and drought had added to the overall feeling of discouragement, but our God never fails to remind us of His constant presence. We only have to be open to it.

Was it a perfect day? No, in reality, it was an average one. Heavy rain could have severely dampened our spirits, it was difficult to drive, but we laughed our way through it. Our daughter had taken a bad fall down slippery steps the night before but she didn’t belabor her misfortune, she kept right on going through her discomfort. Our eleven-year-old granddaughter (you know that 

awkward tween time when kids are trying to find their place in the scheme of things) often becomes frustrated with all the “old” people who populate her world, but we all joked and laughed at her many mood swings and enjoyed the crispy goodness of the chicken quesadillas she cooked on the outdoor grill. We made a Dutch oven peach cobbler that didn’t go quite as planned but with many suggestions and a few corrections during the cooking process, it reached a slightly more than the golden brown stage. It wouldn’t have taken any prizes for presentation, but the flavor really tickled the taste buds. What else could a person ask for? Love and laughter with precious family, plentiful rain to relieve our drought, safe travel, good food shared, the magic of a Swedish candle log fire, the beauty of nature, and clouds decorated with silver linings sealing the promise that we are never alone.

Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice. Joseph B. Wirthlin


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