I Love Fireside Reflections:
There is something primordial and soulful about quietly sitting in front of the fireplace, with a pipe or fermented beverage in your hand, staring into the flames in a state of wonderment.
Men have been doing this since our first parents were kicked out of Paradise, no doubt.
Tonight I do so, in Thanksgiving for some personal achievement as of late, that was really God working through me.
Except for me this warm August evening, my only available substitute for a real fire is the fireplace projected onto my screen via Netflix. It will do for now.
And the central thoughts of life come to mind. Ponderings about the state of things, both in one's personal life and the state/Church outside of the domestic home. Nothing on this side of the grave compares to what God plans to reward us with, if we are holy.
But He does give us a few consolations to remind us on a natural level of the heavenly Paradise. Does He not? Just as after a long, hopefully sainted life, when one enjoys what "eyes have not seen nor ears have heard," so, God sometimes gives us now a taste of that reward at the end of a hard day or period of labor.
To me, a quiet sit in front of the evening fire, maybe with a smoke or a drink, talking or silently musing about either the Creator, or anything in Creation in light of the Creator, either directly or indirectly, is a fitting Catholic form of leisure, and my own personal ideal.
Give me just a few quality things to enjoy a bit, and I'm there. No need of much more than that, materially speaking, not to say I don't or wouldn't have more costly material possessions, according to my state in life, socioeconomic status, and what is most prudent for me and mine.
In the meantime, I'm able to rest, sitting back in my Okie Armchair, sipping R&R whiskey, and staring into the flames.
What I think About:
I think of the past. My father who has since passed away, of his life, his own gifts and personal trials. I think of my great-grandfather who brought his Irish Catholic family to Oklahoma to start a lumber business. I think of the simplicity and humility of their lives, before 65 inch Smart TVs.
I think about how my father's family growing up lived across the street from their Catholic parish, such that very early daily Mass was a habit, and their Irish Redemptorist pastor often enjoyed an evening conversation and a pipe on my grandparents' front porch.
St. Anthony's Catholic Church
But I take a sip and think back to Adam and Eve's Fall, how this whole History of Salvation business, truth be told, is, for every person alive, a Valley of Tears. Even for the most privileged, healthy, and popular individuals. Life is a struggle for all of us, a battle against disorder, and a daily state of suffering on some level.
I reflect how original sin takes on a life of its own in each family tree, including my own. Looking back on mine, I have to consider it a singular grace I am a believing, practicing Catholic. What grace and good habits I have, it's less than 1 percent me, and 99% God's Providence, and still I often fall into sins.
I think back on the last several years of my life, which were like climbing up a steep mountain. I have to be thankful to God for the grace to persevere to achieve a certain degree of success where I am now at in my short life.
My Idea of "Success."
But as I pause looking into the fire, I ask, what is the nature of the success I achieved? For me, it is not only my talents realized in my chosen profession, or the financial gain that is secured by that, but in finding a quiet place in my life of inner security, so to speak, to feel more peace.
It is not as much a peace that comes from economic stability (which in the natural order does help), but in being reminded that God is always with me. He always provides, sustains, and delivers what he promises, in this life and especially in the next, if we work for Him.
To conclude my "fireside" meditation, I feel at this moment in my life, having achieved recently a certain milestone in my own professional life, content, thankful, blessed, and assured in God and by God. I am sure my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather would be proud, and likewise join me for a glass.
It is these moments we achieve in life that prefigure "what God has planned for those who love Him."
My prayer then is I use my gifts for the greater glory of God, for His Will to be done, in this world and in the next.
And may we all do the same in our vocations and avocations in life.