I was living in northern California at the time, looking after my friend Kelly’s room at the community of Willow Springs. Every day I sat before the fire, warming myself and playing guitar, feeling my own burning emotions of love, loss, yearning, confusion. I was in love and hurting; I was alone and shaken, feeling it all in my heart, soul and self. I was trying to make sense of everything and somehow, as I sat gazing into the hypnotic fire burning, I knew I was not alone; watching the wood turn to flames, burn to embers and reduce to ash, which I then swept and threw out every day. All those weeks, fire was a theme. I kept finding poems and quotes about fire and kept having to make fires and chop wood and clean more ash…it all seemed relevant.

Here is one of the poems I was inspired by:

The Truth stands before me, On my left is a blazing fire, and
On my right, a cool flowing stream.
One group of people walk toward the fire, into the fire,
And the other towards the cool flowing waters.
No one knows which is blessed and which is not.

But just as someone enters the fire,
That head bobs up from the water,
And just as a head sinks into the water,
That face appears in the fire.
Those who love the sweet water of pleasure
And make it their devotion are cheated by this reversal.

The deception goes further-
The voice of the fire says:
“I am not fire, I am fountainhead,
Come into me and don’t mind the sparks.”
—RUMI

It came to me after some time that fire is the necessary catalyst for transformation (I had already written the first two verses and was struggling to understand what I needed to say in the third). Through the burning we -like the alchemists- purify the chemicals of Self until we end up with nothing but pure Self and become ‘that which births its own new life’ (the phoenix). We ARE the flame, the pure and unadulterated flame of clear life existing in constant flux.

But first, we must burn the fuel we create, the things we hold onto, the wounds we carry. We must stand within the raging torrents of fire and allow it all to move through us. You must burn through them all and I must burn through them all, so that nothing remains; except for…Fire, which is You and which is I.

Two embers in the fire faced one another
Said to the other “What are you doing here?
Although I question carefully your presence
I am so grateful for your company in the fire.”
Until we’re gone gone gone gone gone
Gone gone gone gone
Gone gone gone gone gone
When the flames have all burned down
What will remain?

Wood, flames, embers burn to ash
Throw the ash down and let the trees grow once again.
From the trees you cut the wood to build your fire
So build your fire and let it all burn down again

Until it’s gone gone gone gone gone
Gone gone gone gone
Gone gone gone gone gone
When the flames have all burned down
What will remain?

Sit, reflect, accept the heat you feel
Though it burns…you…through
In fire the flame you are it is revealed
This is the change

Now you’re gone gone gone gone gone
Gone gone gone gone
Gone gone gone gone gone
When the flames have all burned down
Then you’ll remain.

So, brothers and sisters of the flame, I wish you a good burning 😉

“Breathe deep, seek peace”
Nate

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