Driving along the back roads from San Luis today, I enjoyed some rare moments of quiet. The hills were a lush, Irish green and the gray clouds hung in an ominous, drab sky. It was beautiful in a subtle way, framed in the silence of the countryside.
As I wound around the hills and into the clearing, I smelled smoke intermingled with the moist air. I inhaled deeply, and almost expected a little log cabin to appear with a wisp of smoke escaping from a pipe-topped chimney. However, the smoke I saw was thick and billowed from a ranch nestled at the foot of a nearby hill.
Scanning the horizon, I saw another cloud of smoke surging from the midst of another homestead. Then three more would spontaneously greet me before I reached home.
Controlled burns, I thought, finally catching a glimpse of the great pile of leaves, sticks and twigs being consumed beneath the puffs. I had seen them before, but it seemed uncharacteristic that there were so many going at the same moment. Perhaps it was the contrast of the drizzling sky that made them more noticeable.
I wondered how the landowners keep these blazes contained and it made me a twinge nervous to think that the flames could easily begin to consume beyond their boundaries and become a force of destruction.
Just an hour earlier, I had been sharing some realizations during a lunch date with a friend. My emotions and feelings often burn with intensity. When I have the discipline to control them, they are a useful force, fuel for my passions. And there are other times when I allow them to reach beyond their fences and burn those around me.
What I'm considering lately, though, is that emotions and feelings can be contained within a controlled burn lit by an external source. Instead of fanning emotional wildfires in my life, I want to submit my emotions to my Creator. I want to be saddened and angered by what brings sadness and anger to His heart, and not waste my time and energy getting incensed about things that don't really matter in the long run, in God's economy. My desire is for Him to continually ignite my heart within the bounds of His great love and mercy.
I want to be a controlled burn.