Recently I read Thomas Paine’s American Crisis #1.
This line stood out to me:
Though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.
I pondered, I studied, I mused.
What is this coal? Why will it never expire? What can we do to fan the flame of liberty?
Then I wrote this poem to remind me of the answers and the challenge:
By God our hearts were given to us
A small coal inside to care for and trust.
It warms when life is cold and dreary.
It inspires when we become weary.
The heart is the fuel of the human soul.
The center of passion, desires, and goals.
The Lord lights this coal, that can never die.
And at times the flame burns bright and high.
When it does, it rekindles coals nearby,
When it does, it inspires men to fly.
Fly to heights beyond our vision.
Soar to mountains full of wisdom.
But even when the coal is buried
By ashes of dreams and loads to carry.
It does not die, it cannot expire,
For God Himself lit that fire.
Eternal as He is the coal He placed
In the heart of each of the human race.
With the clearing of ashes,
The shouldering of the load
With the wind of stories long untold
The flame is fanned and the coal will burn bright
Giving warmth, comfort, joy and light.
We who teach must care for the coal,
By telling the stories that need to be told
The stories of heroes long unsung
Of deeds of valor, of battles won.
We will clear the ashes of dreams that died
When we ponder the deeds of those who tried.
We will inspire others to shoulder their load
As we press forward towards our goals.
Yes, the flame burns bright in the morning light
And sometimes struggles to survive the night.
But the flame in our hearts is sustained by the coal
A gift from God, a part of our soul.
It will never expire though our load be great
But we must choose to work and wait.