Embers of a Fire

It’s late. I should go to bed – I’ve been up for 17 hours, worked an entire workday and have been doing homework for five additional hours.  I’ve peeked at the news every now and then – it’s almost impossible not to – and marveled at how just a few short months ago not a single one of us knew that some invisible entity was about to turn our lives upside down.

But do we ever know?  We never can be certain that the next week, month, or year might hold something dreadful. We may get sick ourselves or face the horror of a loved one falling ill or getting injured. We may lose our jobs. We may lose a beloved pet. We may lose hope.

And that’s where I draw the line.

I’ve lost all the above: I’ve lost both of my parents. I lost a marriage once, unexpectedly. I lost a job shortly afterward when the business I worked for suddenly ceased to exist. I’ve lost confidence, direction, focus, and commitment at various times in my life. I’ve had nights full of despair after losing most of those.

But I’ve also learned, in my 51 years, that the fire never gets fully extinguished. Even in the most desperate moments, there was always a tiny ember that burned just enough to keep me moving forward. I can look back today and see how it never, ever died completely. Just like a minuscule piece of ash, scarcely glowing, can land and start a brush fire, this ember I’ve found is capable of igniting greatness at the right moment.

It’s so easy to be frightened, especially against something we can’t even see.

But, you see, what keeps my ember glowing is that I see, in times such as this, so many rallying and supporting each other. I’m already seeing stories of people lending each other a hand (and maybe some toilet paper). People placing greater good above their own self-interest. It’s happening all around us. We’re leaning in. We’re lifting up.

And so, no, I will not lose hope. Not before, not now, not in the future. We are a fragile species occupying a fragile planet, but we are so amazingly capable of kindness, compassion, beauty, and greatness that I will never give up hope.


I have faith. Faith in a good and gracious God. Faith in the kindness and goodness of our species. Faith that although we may make mistakes trying to prevent this virus circulating among us we will make more correct choices than incorrect.

Faith that my ember will always glow enough to light the next step forward.

“Faith is the antiseptic of the soul … it pervades the people and preserves them … they never give up believing and expecting and trusting.” 

– Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”