Kimmy Sophia Brown


Dec 15, 2003
The other day I took a walk on the hill behind our house with two of my children and our dog. It was a really pretty November morning, unseasonably warm and bright. We walked over the shaved, rounded cheek of the soybean field that had just been harvested a couple of weeks before. The field had been transformed from a knee-deep harvesty gold cover to a brown stubble. As we climbed the hill, an enormous old oak tree began to shed its red leaves in a gentle wind. We stood and watched as the leaves fell unceremoniously. Rather than being heavy things that drop like apples with a thud, God made leaves light and feathery. Their float to the earth was indefinite and subtle, finding their way by left and right turns, like a shy person trying to say something. As the wind swelled, more broke free and circled and blew, so lovely and quiet. We stood looking at it and I felt the stress of the daily grind dissipate a little. It was a little gift, one of the millions of unceremonious things that God put into the creation for our contemplation and replenishment.

About a month ago my husband and sons dug a fire pit in the field. We used it twice last week, for the first time. We ate dinner and Peter built a fire, and in the dark of the late autumn, we pulled up chairs and stumps close to the fireside. The kids toasted marshmallows and we sat and stared into the fire.

Sting was on the Oprah Winfrey show a couple of weeks ago. He said that his mother taught him a love of music and firelight. He spent hours staring into the fire during his childhood, and in those mental journeys he developed imagination which surely influenced his song writing. It made me reflect on how starved of fire we are in modern society. So many treasured books of old mention the joy and quietude of gathering around a fire at the end of a long day of work, the crackling, yellow darkness easing and replenishing the soul like a hot bath.

My daughter, Gracie, and I were sitting next to each other in front of the fire. She mentioned to me that the sound of a fire is similar to the sound of water. I realized that God gave us this too, the similarity of the relaxing and restorative attributes of fire and water. They both have a hypnotic effect on the tired mind, and we feel the aches and stresses of the day fade away as we stare into either one.

When Peter and I lived in Virginia Beach we spent many an evening looking at the glinting ocean in the fading rays of sunlight while our kids were playing in the surf or running up and down the beach with the dog.

It seems like so many manmade things create tension, stress, anxiety - kind of an odd phenomenon of "anti-humanity". The very world we've created has turned on us and made us a population of worry-ridden, nail biting, exhausted people. We stare into blinking computers, and when we're done we stare into blinking TV screens under ugly fluorescent lights. Gone are the candles and hurricane lamps and firesides known to our ancestors. We bow to the modern culture of light and noise.

Musician Pat Matheny recently commented that the currency of music has been devalued. The pervasive presence of substandard music blares at us from every corner. Cities are filled with intersections where cars belch a banal bass line, and potty-mouthed so-called singers sing about violence in ugly, dehumanizing rhymes. Lights, camera, action, we are imbedded and bombarded with assembly line music, advertising pitches and the drone of the popular culture.

Meanwhile, God in heaven gave us the falling leaves, the falling snow, the crackling fire and soft lapping water, the glinting sunlight and pale, blinking stars above. Someday we will reconnect with our inner roots, and we will turn off the noise and the ugliness, not because someone told us to but because we won't want it anymore. It will go away because we won't be fooled by it anymore. And we will sit by water and firelight and we will feel God, and contentment will be our home.

Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.