Have you ever been charged with making a fire? Ever been charged with keeping that fire going? Ever been charged with keeping that fire going with palm branches that quickly burn out due to their nature? Ever been charged with keeping said fire going by your parish priest?!
It was kinda stressful, I’ll be honest, but fun in a way.
Maybe it’s odd that I find a high point in a time like Lent, but here I am, shooting upward towards the heavens again. Ah, I wish I could just settle, or perhaps it’s good this way, experiencing a certain rejuvenation, a cleansing of the mind if you will. No, I shall not have mediocrity from myself.
So, recently, I was given the task of being “the fire guy” during the Shrove Tuesday service. You see my friendly old (or young) reader, I saw the fire, but not a world on fire yet, fortunately. When we get there, heh, it would be wise to run. Still, as I watched the fire, my mind went to Baptism, specifically the part with the candle, the light entrusted to the parents, to be kept burning brightly. I’ve wanted to be a parent for quite a while. Anyone who knows me realizes that babies are kind of a weakness of mine, and as for having a child of my own, oh, don’t get me started! Of course, that all depends on what route I take, but that’s beside the point for now.
Returning to the fire, did I mention that I was panicking over it at times? Yes, every so often, the wind would threaten to blow it out, and the flame would bend and crackle, shrinking in size and intensity. My solution: throw more pine branches on the thing.
Like a magic trick, it would flare up for an instant, roaring brighter than I’d expected before, but in the next moment, it would die down to a quiet, resolute image, still withstanding the windy evening. Other times, unfortunately, I came close to smothering it with too much thrown on at once, but if I gradually added on, the flame could grow.
Why am I writing about this? Oh, things have just been going well, and depressing times are exactly that, so why not find some joy in things for once?
This whole fire thing, in case you haven’t guessed, is reminiscent of our lives. I am the fire. You are too. Welcome to the flame club, by the way. I’m afraid we don’t have nametags or any nice slogans, but we glow pretty brightly at times.
Being flames, we face a lot in our – pretty short, even without the analogy – lifetimes. There are quite a number of storms in life, and even when we think we’re in a calm place, there’s that deceptive gust that suddenly blows through. Now, that’s not meant to be discouraging, but it is what it is. We sway, we risk going out, we blaze up when we’re most needed. Regarding that last one, perhaps all it takes is some fuel. My fuel comes from others, they energize me, they bring me to my greatest potential. Introvert though I am, I need the people in my life. They have an odd habit of sticking with me at the strangest of times, and I must say, it’s been the case where I’ve found myself in a situation, and I hear words of wisdom coming to me from my friends. Some of these words are from so long ago, I’m surprised I even remember them, but there they are in the memory, aiding me in the moment.
However, the voices, the retreats, the brief moments of meeting, they’re not enough. They are the quick palm branches that bring the blaze to life for an instant, but that’s all it is, an instant of intense power. Friends are the lasting fuel, the huge pieces that take a little bit before the fire encompasses them, but when it does, it lasts. Unfortunately, when you remove the log, well, there goes a foundational part of the fire with it. It’s a sacrifice, but it’s worth the effort (cue Father nodding in the background).
A long time ago, I told a bunch of my peers not to give up, never to give in, because they’re not alone. Well I pray none of them are now. Isolation is a dangerous thing to play with. Isolation and sad music. Bad mix. Kill it with fire. Your fire.
Here’s some practical advice: Make a playlist of hype music. That’s literally what I did. Make a playlist with songs guaranteed to lift your spirits, and listen to it when you’re down. Then like… dance around your room or something, I dunno. Fires move and crackle about, so I’m curious as to whether you can imitate them. Send me a video or something if you can.
Oh, one more thing on us fires: Perhaps we’re stronger than we think.
See, during some of the times where I stepped into the church antechamber to listen to the prayers, the wind grew dangerously, and I’d have to rush back outside, thinking my beautiful fire would die. Well, while yes, it did shrink, it never died. It withstood the force, perhaps even retreated further than I would have liked, but it held on. You hold on too.
I’m writing from the blaze, the high point, on a dual retreat high, you might say, even if both were more sobering experiences than “usual”. I know I’ll be going down in time, but hopefully when I get back there, I’ll still be able to withstand the storm.
Why is this piece so childishly written?
Because… there’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes. I think we tend to get bogged down with our worldly, adult responsibilities quite often, and we don’t really take time to kick back with authentic childlike joy. That doesn’t mean ignore the reality, but a nice balance with escapism tends to do wonders. ‘Tis my writing for me.
We are children, we are fires, both tend to be/go awesomely mental and wild. Be it. Live it. Fire fire fire.
P.S. It’s gonna be lit. Sorry college fam, couldn’t resist, don’t start dabbing though, please.