We are watching it play out right before our eyes.  In major cities all across America, flames have been ignited — tempers have flared and the embers of hate and racism, fueled by decades of injustice and frustration have spread across the globe.

I am reminded of my early years, before there was central air and central heat, the source of heat at my grandmother’s house was a huge contraption that sat in the middle of her dining room — a wood and coal burning pot-bellied stove.  My grandmother would get up early on those cold winter mornings, open the door of that stove and throw in a few chunks of wood.  I watched as she lighted the flame, set the wood on fire and then close the door.  In a matter of minutes the heat from that stove was enough to warm up the entire downstairs portion of that two-story house.  When the room began to get cooler, she would open the front door of the stove, use a wrought iron poker to reignite the flame and throw another piece of wood or two into the stove which served to turn up the heat again.

As I observe the current climate of a worldwide pandemic, social distancing while loved ones are dying, unemployment at an all time high and cities being burned to the ground as society cries out in a rage for justice, I struggle to hold fast to the peace within.  The peace that has been a precious commodity to me since the death of my son almost three years ago.

As I contend to hold on to that peace, it is times like these that the choice that I make is critical.   I choose to not allow the flames from what is happening outside of my being to burn down the peace that has been established within me.  As I process what I am hearing, seeing and knowing about this present and oh so challenging reality, I search for the cool spot in my heart, and in my mind and soul.

So, how do I maintain my cool?  I think about my grandmother’s pot-bellied stove as I guard my heart.  I see my words and my tongue as that wrought iron poker.  I can use them to stir up the flame and allow the embers to reignite the fire within me or I can remain cool.  When I see my tongue as a poker, I don’t want to stick it in the fire — do you?

Before I speak, or allow the flaming embers of negativity to touch my heart, I hear myself saying — “Don’t light the match”“Don’t open the door”  — “Don’t stoke the flames.”  Maintain your cool — choose peace.


This feature was submitted by Charmaine Roots Castillo


Charmaine Roots Castillo is a creative writer, model, and best-selling author with a passion to promote the wisdom of brighter perspectives.  Featured as K.I.S.H. magazine’s “Top Extraordinary Women on the Rise for 2020,” she is an editor and the owner of The LaFonde’ Experience, LLC.  A shining example of grace and peace, Charmaine’s mantra is “you are never too old to pursue your dreams.”