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WHO AM I?
WHO AM I?
We sit and face the fire and the sparks rise to the sky, and at our backs is the dark night of the future. The cold and unknown in the dark behind us. Our faces are illuminated by the bright orange and red that's blazing forth in front of us as the wood of our lives bursts into flames. And, we are laughing and looking across the fire at each other, and talking. That’s how we keep our attention focused on the present and not worry about what’s in the dark and probably looking at us from the dark future forest.
We are a mixed lot and grow in different climes. Some of us are hardwoods, dense, heavy, with thick layers of l’aubier, living sapwood. Strong. Bearing a lot. Occasionally showy. Colorful. You know those sturdy folk by their fire. Their fires are hot.
Others of us are soft pines. Softwood is only water and smoke. It is amazing how quickly our softwood life stories go up in smoke.. Very little heat, lots of ash. And so our life fire, if we have grown too soft, burns the uneventful which barely warms us.
We toss in our pinecones with lots of future yet to be released and planted. New forest re-seed themselves after the fire rages through and burns down the ancient trees. Sometimes I feel like an ancient tree. And when I sit with my friends in front of the fire I see that we burn our pasts. We release those seeds of the future by telling our past stories. And those are the fuel for the New Year’s fire.
Some of our stories are about our victories. Some of the stories are about our defeats. Our losses. Some of the stories are about the things which others did to us. It is good to release those stories that are not strengthening for us. We'll toss them onto the fire pit and watch them burn. Let ‘em go. Let the sparks rise to the sky. Turn them into ashes. Let them go.
WHY AM I HERE?
Sitting around the fire and telling our stories to one another is something that men do, that women do, that people do. We have been hosting fire evenings for years. We invite our longtime friends to come and sit. One would think that, after all these years that the stories would be repetitive, but they're not. Just as the years of our lives are cyclical, our storytelling to one another is likewise cyclical. We peel off the layer of one story at one time on one year on one weekend on one night there is more. Our lives are deeper than we can imagine. The hurts run very deep. In some cases there may be no end to the depths of despair that our experiences have given us. It is good to sit in front of the fire and tell those stories.
Tonight plays a special role in the process. We are held by the darkness.
How much smaller as a people we become when we can't live with the elements – fire, water, wind, and the earth. When we become too civilized we become too small too containerized. Domesticated. We need to be out. We need to be risking. We need to be standing in front of the raw elements. We need to float our lives down the rivers of life. We need to be blown about and buffeted by the winds. We need to be challenged by the snow. We need also to face the fires. Our I-being needs to be in touch with the God of the elements.
There used to be refining fires when things were melted and smelted and created by those who work the metals. Our metals in our hearts and our lives are still worked over. But many of us are not so skilled as craftsman's. When things get hot and we start getting pounded we tend to flee rather than join in the pounding. Let's take this life and pound it into a different shape. We can change, we can grow. But we must be willing to withstand the pain. Stand the heat. So long as we are the cause of our own heat and realize that we are willing to put up with it. The refining fire will burn out the impurities in our character. Smelt the iron of our selves. But we have to put ourselves into that fire we have to load that fire tray coal or our hardwood self which we want to burn.
WHAT DO I WANT?
And, of course, this year is not cold. There has been very little ice and snow. Like sometimes in our lives, we are not challenged. We are not met by opposition. Life gives us a “pass” and there is, seemingly, no resistance. But, the reality does not matter.
We will sit, and drape ourselves a bit less in jackets and the fire will seem hotter. And the stories, when they come, will blaze brighter. But the dark will be just as dark, and deep and mysterious. We know the mountains which we must cross in the future are just as high, and lie over to the East. As we ascend, there will be more snow. And, you know the snow will eventually come. Eventually.
And your future vision prepares for it. Your heart will be glad when the leaden, snow filled skies return.
And your friends return. They have been delayed. But, they have said they would be there. They will come for the fire. The New Year will come, eventually. And you will be prepared. The saws and axes to cut and split the stories are to one side.
You know it will be coming. Soon. And you hope it will arrive as will the unexpected guest.