It is chilly and damp in the Pacific Northwest and we have been building a fire almost everyday in our fireplace. This morning as I sat by the fire and sparks were flying, I started to think about how we build these particular fires in our fireplace.
Luke builds a bonfire, stacking log upon log, wedging in kindling and fire starter. Once he has created an enormous blaze, he stands back, admires his work and walks away. Soon his fire has burned out. (Sorry Luke)
Rick has a different approach. He also stacks logs and kindling just so but he stays close by. He tends it, is attentive to it, moves a log this way and that to provide maximum flow of oxygen allowing it to grow steadily. He may walk away but comes back every now and then, remaining faithful to his fire. Ultimately Rick’s fire maintains a steady burn, giving away warmth and eventually coming to glow for hours even after the flames have subsided.
Tending to a fire is often used as a metaphor in spirituality and so my mind goes there…to our own inner spark of divinity, the root of our being that unites us to God and one another. Sometimes it roars and other times it glows, consistently needing our presence and attention. At times our attention is enough to keep it going and other times it benefits from the fanning from another. And thankfully, if it wanes and we allow, as the psalmist writes, even in our darkest night, O Lord, you kindle a fire within.
And since I still have Magi on the brain, I recall that we read in the Scriptures that toward the end of their journey, they reach Jerusalem and begin to ask around for the child who has been born king of the Jews. Herod and the whole city become troubled. When they don’t find him in the palace, trusting their inner spirit, they set off toward Bethlehem. Suddenly the star reveals itself again and leads them onward. Once they find and pay homage to the Christ Child, they are asked to rely once more on their inner truth and go home by their own way, rather than return to Herod and expose the child as Herod had commanded. Throughout there journey, they were consistently present and attentive to their inner flame and it made all the difference. Because of it they were abled to be filled with wonder, surprised by joy and overflow with love.
As I sit back and reflect I have to ask myself how faithful I am to my inner flame of divinity? Do I attend to it regularly and throughout my day? What is going on for me when it roars…or when it glows? Am I aware, and do I give thanks when others fan my flame? In moments of darkness, when it seems like my light has been extinguished, do I remember to turn to God asking that a fire be rekindled within me? And, finally, do I make room to be surprised by the wonder,joy and love that comes when you least expect it on the road?