ďDonít you dare talk to me in that tone of voice! If you expect me to listen to you, youíd better sing a different tune!Ē
With eyes bulging wide and breath coming in short, grunting sounds, the young lad almost took the door off the hinges as he slammed it shut and left the room. Long and bitter experience had been a hard task master that taught very difficult lessons. There was no point in talking to his mother when she was like this; and she was always like this. The next step would be physical violence. He was so tired of being beaten; if it wasnít her it was his dad.
Thatís how this one started; his dad. It had been a quiet and pleasant evening. Flames jumped and danced in the fire place. Warm, beautiful colors played games together around and over the logs stacked in the grate. They were switching between hide and seek, show and tell and chasing each other in a fast and furious tag match. Like any young boy, this lad really enjoyed watching the fireís magical, light show.
He leaned forward in his chair to see the performance better and to admire the reds, yellows and blues doing gymnastics side by side. Thatís when it happened. Something so small, so simple and so innocent; and yet so life changing.
When he came into the front room that night his father had already lit and stoked the fire. Then, as usual, had sat in his favorite chair in front of the glow and passed out; dead drunk. But there was a problem that our young struggler against fate failed to see, until it was too late. His father, with the typical misjudgment of an alcoholic, had stacked the logs too high and not very well.
As young eyes watched the fire, and young ears listened to the drunken snoring in the other chair, a log fell off the top of the heap and landed with a snort and crackle onto the tiled hearth. No big deal, it was a large safety barrier and no embers jumped over to the carpet. But the simple, innocent action of grabbing the coal tongs and putting the log back suddenly became a fight to survive.
As he leaned forward with the log and placed it back onto the fire his father woke up.
ďThereís already enough wood on the fire, idiot. Donít go putting any more on.Ē
ďIím not. It fell...Ē
The foot moved too fast and landed in his side. Breath was squeezed from his lungs and he rolled away struggling to try and pull it back. That sentence never got finished. His father settled back and passed out.
One young, angry man went into the kitchen and told his mother, with a note of desperation and pain in his voice, ďI should have just let him burn.Ē
The young man left home that night and never returned.
Itís been many years since that event and the young man is no longer burning with the embers of bitterness, anger, rejection and defeat. When he speaks today, the note in his voice is often very different. Not always so, and there is still lots of room for improvement, but he does sing a different tune; often reaching much higher, angelic notes.
It was a long, hard struggle and many years of anger had to be gone through so that his voice could be trained to sing more beautiful songs. He had lots of fights, ruined many relationships, fought his own battle with alcohol and, like so many abused kids, became abusive to all who tried to draw close. But he also heard about a man from Galilee who was a healer of the heart.
It took a long while, but he pursued a relationship with a God that he found was not only alive but also active; a God who cared for him.
He discovered a very important truth. The note sang by the mouth was simply at the same pitch, tempo and intensity as the tune carried in the heart. To sing softer notes one needs a softer heart; and forgiveness for his parents was the only way this could be achieved.
I think Iíll go and light a fire. Itís been years since I watched the flames dance.
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