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Sparks of Inspiration

By Tim Tron

Burke CountyTim Tron Burke County


Closing my eyes in prayer, there was suddenly a shower of sparks flowing toward me in the darkness. Like those tiny bits of burning metal thrown from the blade against a grinder, floating, gliding, gently blowing into my face. Orange bits of light and little specks of fire bounced against my skin, non-threatening, only slightly tingling. The flow of glowing embers was as beautiful against the background of darkness as stars in the night sky. Turning to face the enigma, the flames only increased until it was a snowstorm of peppering happy light. Wanting to find the source, I began walking against the current, swimming upstream into the torrent of fire until the sparks turned into bubbles – floating in the water, their tingling continuing as they once were in the light. Then, without warning, my body surfaced, and I instinctively sucked in a lungful of air.
One spark floated after another.

The brilliant blue light drew my eyes while the sparks of metal fragments flew from the welder’s torch. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, blinding, powerful, and alluring, like the face of God. As a moth is drawn to the flame, my little body walked in a trance toward the man in the long mask, bent over, intently watching his work. He paused, flipped up the faceguard, and wiped the sweat from his forehead. The shower of sparks stopped. The brilliant light went out as the blue finger of a flame still roared from the metal instrument the man held in his hand. It was then my grandfather realized my proximity after glancing in my direction, and he yelled out a warning, “Don’t look into the light. It’ll blind you.” Scared by his command, my eyes darted away toward the cow barn nearby. The blue light followed my vision, still burning into my view. Before I could turn back, the sound of the welding torch began again, and once more, the sparks flew from before my grandpa as metal turned to liquid and formed into the shape his mind had already decided upon. The red glow of the metal was only matched by the lion’s mane of fire surrounding it. Promethean, raw, unassuming strength of will.

Later in life, the verse in Matthew would always make me think back to that day on the farm., “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” While even manufactured light can be harmful, God’s very image, the potential to entirely change us, is so overwhelming that it can be life-altering. This image would never leave me.
And then one spark floated after another.

We were building our first house and farm in Chatham County. It had been raining for weeks, and we badly needed to burn the brush pile that had accumulated in the front of the home before the final inspection. We had tried repeatedly to light the soaked wood but to no avail. Fire after fire had failed. So, after help from some neighbors, we purposely waited until nightfall so as to not alarm the local volunteer fire department. That colossal mound of timber would have certainly created a massive plume of black smoke visible all the way to Goldston, the little town nearby. In preparation, we had spread several gallons of diesel fuel over the entirety of the mound of wood in preparation for the big bonfire. Then, with everyone ready and properly distanced, I poured a line of gasoline from the pile to where I stood, nearly 30 feet away.

I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
The match was struck and, with a quick motion, thrown onto the trail of gas that led to the pile. The flame ran like a little mouse into the bowels of the woodpile and disappeared. As a sleeping giant about to wake, the mound of wood inhaled. We could feel the hairs on our forearms and necks pull towards the sucking sound of the impact about to transpire. At first invisible wind, then an eerie quiet. And suddenly, a mighty burst of flames sent a small shockwave, knocking some forcibly backward as the column of light shot toward the sky. The fire licked the top of the nearby tree, some forty feet tall. We all stood there watching for a moment, not realizing that somewhere in my family’s distant past, this would have been more than just a necessary evil. At the time, I never realized the significance of such an event was grounded in our family’s ancestry so many centuries before. That meaning was not merely the burning of a pile of wood but rather a spiritual journey unlike any other.
One spark floated after another.

Before the ancient Waldensians, lay the enormous brush pile, waiting, dormant. One match is all it would take to light it. They had waited until dark so the impact of the flame could be seen from the nearby mountain peaks. It was February 17th, 1848. King Carlos Alberto had finally, graciously, approved the proclamation, making the people of the Waldensian Valleys free and granting them their civil liberties, which they had been denied for centuries. It was the independence of not only something in writing but much more. The countless lives lost, the tragic tortures, burnings at the stake, and the ruthless killings would be no more – they could sleep at night knowing that there would never be the knock on the door again, seeking to destroy all they owned, and worse, all they believed.
The match was struck and, with a quick motion, thrown into the dry tender of the brush pile. Like a sleeping dragon about to wake, the mound of stacked timber inhaled. They could feel the wind pulling them towards the fortress of trees, making a sucking sound preceding the explosion of flames that was about to occur. Once more, the burst of flames sent a small shockwave, knocking everyone forcibly backward as the column of light shot toward the sky. As they watched, they could hear distant gunshots from the neighboring peaks. They turned to see a matching tower of light. Then one by one, the mountaintops became beacons of hope, sentinels of freedom. The Waldensian people were finally free. As they watched, the flames slowly subsided into a gentle roar that eventually consumed the ceremonial mound of wood.

Years later, attending an annual Waldensian Fabio Celebration in Valdese, North Carolina, the scene was repeated once more. It has been every year since that first celebration, 163 years ago. We all watched well into the night as the tiny sparks of light lifted skyward to join those that had gone on before. Something was comforting that night, a calming sense of completeness – full circle, if you will.
Ironically, the symbol of freedom, the burning flame, was once the preferred tortuous death, burning at the stake. Yet, even though they suffered a horrible death, it was the light within that continued to shine. As Christ had lit their eternal flame, they could now never be extinguished.
One spark floated after another.

Gathered in the upper room, fearing for their lives, the disciples had all gathered for what they believed to be one last time. Their leader, their spiritual guide, Jesus was gone. “Had he truly been God?” “What were they to do without him?” He had told them to return to Jerusalem to wait, but now what? “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost..”
One spark floated after another.

From the vision of sparks flying to the face of God to flames of celebration to cloven tongues of fire, the Holy Spirit speaks to us and through us in many ways. Yet, when we take time to seek Him, we find he is always with us, regardless if we know it or not – comforting, assuring, and protecting. He’s majesty, His might is too powerful for us to look upon, yet in this impressive supremacy, there is a gentle love, a love like none other, willing to give His only Son for our sins.

The next time you see the spark rise from the flame, remind yourself that you are not alone.
One spark floats after another.
Thanks be to God.


Timothy W. Tron lives in Collettsville, NC. with his family. He is currently the Systems Administrator for the Computer Science Department at App. State. Timothy is the former Director of the Trail of Faith in Valdese, where he still volunteers and helps with tours. He is the author of a new Christian series, “Children of the Light”, with the first book being, “Bruecke to Heaven”, revised as “Bridge to Heaven”, and his recent book, being the second, “The Light in the Darkness”. He is an active blogger, artist, and musician. Timothy also has a BSEE from UF, and is a Lay Speaker. He is currently acting as the Faculty/Staff Liaison for the Ratio Christi campus ministry at App. State. He can be reached at  You can visit his website at // or see more of his writings HERE