starting 2016

Can you re-ignite my soul? That’s a venture worthy of 2016.

tiny fireI am in a cold wood. The wind is brutal, but I’ve found a small enclave where the rock and brush surround me close enough to form a shield. I hunker down and hold myself close, burying my head between my knees, leaning back against a large tree. I breathe. Once. Twice. Now a deeper breath. My heart slows a bit. I begin to relax.

At last I raise my head and look around. Fragments of beauty begin to jostle my awareness. A small patch of green, hidden away beneath the brush; a stone covered with lichen; the blue of the sky, peaking through the streaked clouds. There is, indeed, the persistence of beauty all around me, if I will but look. It warms my heart. That’s a good start.

The brush pile offers lots of tender for a fire, and there is a ring of rocks just there. So, I gather twigs and pinecones and dried grass and such, placing a fire starter at the very center of my tiny pile. I make the twigs into a tent and follow with some small sticks of graduated size until my firebase is well set. Even this activity warms me. I dig my lighter out of my pocket and start the blaze.

The flame is invisible at first, showing itself only in the blackened edges of the dried grass, as they melt away. It grows slowly stronger, fed mostly by the fire starter, bringing warmth and fuel with enough consistency to start the twigs and smaller sticks.

Feeding the fire – slowly, but consistently – holds my full attention. The wind that I fled when I found this small haven visits with just enough force to keep the fire alight but without blowing it out or threatening to spread it further. It is an ideal place to be, just now.

Finally, the fire has enough of its own base to hold it steady. A few coals are beginning to form. The larger sticks are catching and the fire does not require quite so much attention. I gather enough fuel to last a while, and place it near the fire. The large tree and the rock face beside me form a hollow to hold the heat a bit.

I rock back on my heels and smile. I am grateful for the fire, for the activity, for the perfect hollow, for the way it all fits together. Now the bits of beauty expand before me – blue sky, dark branches in silhouette, the lichen patterns on the rock, the tiny green patches holding on against the winter cold – tenacious life, well suited to the moment. Thank you.

What seemed a trial just moments ago has turned into a gift.

Can this be the way things work (at work), too? Can I find the small hollow, the bit of protection from the wind, the fuel, the fire ring, the fragments of beauty that grow into a gift of grace? Can I spend my energies on some small fire that will grow enough to sustain itself without moment-by-moment intervention? Can you make beauty shine forth; suited to the place where I find myself and the gifts I have to give?

Can you re-ignite my soul? I do hope so.

That’s a venture worthy of 2016.

[photo by Michael Pollak per cc 2.0]

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