Gathering twigs and sawing logs while preparing to start a fire warms my heart. Both the family I grew up in and the family Denny and I reared camped during the summer. Sometimes friends joined us and inevitably we sang songs around the fire at night. There would be the trio of burnt foods: hotdogs, marshmallows, and popcorn. Or we had raw foods, like crunchy potatoes in the foil packs we laid in the fire and removed too soon because we were hungry. Even so, meals were not a disappointment since they tasted better when we were together in the great outdoors.

When the sun set, guitars or ukulele would be tuned, and we would begin to sing (the better voices in harmony) until all of the campfire songs were all sung. Home on the Range, O Shenandoah, Skip to My Lou, You are My Sunshine, Blowin’ in the Wind, and Michael Row Your Boat a’Shore were some of our favorites. Of course, we always concluded with all of the verses of the sung prayer, Kum Ba Yah. It wasn’t exactly up to old Gene Autry movie standards, but still very fine.

It always seemed strange to me to see other families sitting around nearby campfire sites without singing. Of course, they probably thought we were strange because we did sing. But even in 2020, when we haven’t had a campfire experience with singing to bring us together in the darkness, the memories in my heart live on and bring smiles to our faces.

The last campfire some of my family had with my dad was on a damp day in October 2018. We were visiting our cousins and uncle and staying at Niobrara State Park. The bundle of dry logs we’d purchased earlier at the camp office went missing from the cabin’s back porch, so we gathered damp logs and twigs in the dark. The only material that would catch fire was old newspapers that we’d remembered to stash in the trunk. Even so, we sang Kum-Ba-Yah around the flaming papers! It would be about two hours before we finally had supper, but it was still heartwarming to be together with the notion of having a real campfire.

When in a sweet state of mind and heart, I am there once again with the saints of past who are part of who I am. The crackling fires, the songs, and the prayers immersed in my soul will be always be there. I believe that one day we will be one of the saints immersed in the souls of loved ones who are making their temporary home on earth.

My prayer for you is that you celebrate the sacred fire that is within you, as well as feel united with the Spirit that is present at the depths of the earth, and beyond in the vast cosmos.

In Christ’s light,
Pastor Marta