Last night I sat around a huge firepit with some Contemplative Fire friends. Together we listened to Judy Brown’s poem “Fire”. (There is a link below.) Fueled by the poem and fire in front of us, we shared our reflections. What does the poem evoke within us? What are our logs? Our spaces?
The fire had been carefully laid by another. It had paper inside a tent of small kindling and then some larger pieces to begin the blaze. Someone else came and put a match to it. I arrived as the fire was beginning to radiate light and warmth. Night settled around us. The one who built the fire wasn’t there. The one who lit the fire departed. I was on my own with a crackling fire when friends arrived. We settled in together around the fire, poking it as the evening went on. We chewed over the thoughts that were ignited by the poem. They returned home to tend their children and I remained by the fire. The poking continued as did the pondering. I watched the logs be consumed, the spaces shift and then I was left with only embers. What had been a blazing fire, giving us light and heat, became a small dish of glowing embers.
Often, I’ve been taught about the two seasons of life, the accomplishment/achievement of youth and then the search for deeper meaning and purpose that comes as we age. Are the logs the activity or tasks in life and the spaces what give meaning and purpose? Or is it the other way around?! As humans we need both, activity and purpose, accomplishment and meaning, engagement and space to breathe. There is no fire if there are too many logs or only space.
I watched the fire begin, roar, take many shapes as it burnt and then die off into embers where there are no logs or spaces. I wondered if there is a third season, a time of releasing from logs and spaces to becoming embers; a season when meaning and activity shift and change, becoming, a time when we let go of what we’ve done for so long and take on a new way of being. Is this what is called being an elder?
It seems to me that the logs are what the world notices and spaces are the inner work we mature into recognizing and cultivating. There comes a time in life when we are invited to let go of what the world notices and settle into the warmth of ember years. Last night around the campfire I heard the whisper of change, of releasing into the fire, activities and ways I no longer need, of allowing my life to burn differently, even to mellow into embers. What will ember years look like? Are we all called into ember years long before we age? Are not ember years the dying to old self, ego ways and resting into new self, true self, Spirit ways? Can’t that happen at any age?
Ember years. I’m still wondering, listening to the whispers around the campfire.
Here is a link: https://wordsfortheyear.com/2018/06/02/fire-by-judy-brown/.
Love and prayers
Mystic in Motion
Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire
Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder
Companion on The Rivendell Way
Society Member with Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation