Tonight as I was watching and tending to the fire in my fireplace I sat in quiet contemplation (well, really I sat half listening to an episode of Curious George and zoning out while staring into the flames hoping for an extra dose of prana for my tired body). And the longer I sat there and stared the more I realized I was watching my life play out in the fireplace.
The mortared bricks, built specifically to safely house a roaring fire have a distinct purpose on this earth and although they could certainly be effectively used to display candelabras, transport mythical gift giving beings, and even just sitting empty increase the market value of a home… the fireplace is meant for fire. It’s meant to be piled with wood. Not so much that all the air is crowded out, but enough that the pieces work together, feeding off each other’s energy until the roaring flame takes over. It’s meant for this one job.
Lighting the fire isn’t easy. Sometimes the wood is wet, or so hard and dry that even after igniting it burns out quickly leaving a thin layer of char behind. It requires a constant source of ignition to get going. Fiddle with it too much and you can literally smother it before it even gets started. It needs room to breathe to really set ablaze, and when it does, oh wow, does it feel like it could go on forever. The power that’s evident in the sounds, colors, patterns, and vibrant heat coming off of it… it seems unstoppable.
Until it starts to wane. More fuel is always needed. A log can’t burn forever. And as it burns it splits apart, pieces that are no longer serving the burn fall away and may even ignite something else on their way down or from their new resting place in a last burst of life. New wood must be added to keep the power roaring and careful attention must be paid to the when, where, and how new fuel is added. Some pieces will burn bright, hot, and be charred quickly, others will be slow to catch but burn deep and slow giving more warmth throughout the night.
Eventually the fire will start to die down. Without feeding it the burn will slow and soften until it’s nothing more than an orangey glow, crackling and glistening while still giving off the heat of life. At this point it takes nothing more than a quick burst of air to turn glow into sparks and see flames rise again.
The fireplace is me (and all of you). We’re here for a reason and while there are many things we can do, and do well, we have been designed for a specific purpose. Unlike the fireplace that never questions its role and ability to hold fire we get distracted by thoughts and fear of getting burned.
The logs are our life’s work… the wet ones are taking us away from our intended purpose and the fire is refusing to light, refusing to give any energy to something so far from what’s meant to be. The one’s that are so hard and dry that they’re perfect for burning are so hard to get lit because it takes all of our energy focused on a goal to begin to live fully in our masterful design. When we question and try to overwork ourselves and our lives we may end up interfering with our own success through sabotage or simply trying to control too much.
The kindling and matches are the people, places, things, and experiences that move us closer to our whole selves. They’re our healthy relationships, our self loving practices, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and anything that allows us to let go of the cold that doesn’t serve us and receive the warmth of catching fire.
A roaring fire is us living as we’re meant to. We still need more logs… self care is essential and burn out is real. Left unattended the fire will quiet and soften but it will take a long time to completely go out. With just a little more attention, care, and fuel it will quickly reignite. The fire wants to keep burning as much as it is inclined to go out. It’s a delicate balance kept alive by the care and consideration of thoughtful tending.
The fire is going to go out at some point… luckily the one in your soul works on a longer timeline than the burning wood, but in either case you can always come back to it. You will always be the fireplace and so with fuel to burn and a spark to start it the fire has a place to show up and burn bright. Sometimes you will live without your fire for a great length of time… years even. One day you might realize you’ve never lit a fire in the home of your soul. It’s never too late, it’s never been too long. When you find yourself cold, disconnected, in need of comfort… it’s waiting for you. It’s waiting to let you see yourself ignite into the fullest expression of your powerful purpose.