As my wife and I were sitting beside a comforting fire in our living room last night, we talked about how different fires can be – how destructive on the one hand, and how quiet and kind on the other. We saw the flames waving around the logs and knew they could do nothing but bring cheerfulness to our evening. They were made to make us happy, to turn a wintry evening into a warm and welcoming one. There was something lovely and almost alluring in those colorful flames, as if they were reaching out to us with a special kind of friendship. We talked, too, of course, about how fire can also be destructive, and we marveled at the fact that so much of life seems similarly inconsistent – good on the one hand and just plain bad on the other. As we spoke about that strange truth, we nodded to each other, knowing that we’ve seen that paradox in our lives, how something that raises us up today can send us sinking tomorrow. A sunny morning can also be a morning of bad news, and a stormy day can set us free, somehow, to see our lives in better ways. I think we agreed, last night, though silently, to know the truth about our lives – that they can make miracles and disasters at almost the same instant – and also to know the beauty of that truth. Luckily for us, we live lives of a kind of joyous confusion, in which sadness and gladness endlessly join hands in celebration. There’s sunrise, but always sunset shortly after, and always a thoroughly renovating sunrise after that.
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