I woke early this morning – not an unusual activity for me these days, although a few months ago I would have sworn I am not a morning person. The circadian rhythms that ebb and flow within have adjusted to our move to the east side of the Willamette River and the subsequent need for early rising for me to arrive on time to work on the West side. Today, however, is not a work day. This is a day of rest and renewal for me. Thursday, for me, is Sabbath.
In the midst of the work week busyness, especially as I attend classes at the Oregon School of Massage, my mind swirls about this way and that in a flurry of memorization, development of muscle memory for the strokes of massage and the many tasks in my jobs – both as a Chiropractic Assistant and as a Hospice Caregiver. I am often preparing for one thing or another, and rarely take time to rest on those days. Thursdays, however, are different, and Sundays are being reclaimed, now that the boxes have been mostly unpacked and many of our belongings have found their place in our new home.
So, today, I rose early – long before the sun crested over the nearby mountains. Stretching and yawning, preparing the kitty’s morning meal, I slipped my feet into knee-high boots, donned my jacket and a pair of work gloves and I stepped into the brisk morning air. My arms encircled a pile of hardwood and kindling, carrying it ever so carefully into the living room where the open fireplace waited expectantly.
Crushing bands of packing paper, making space for the flame, I built a little frame of kindling and small pieces of wood. I worked quickly, wanting to get the fire going. Match struck – light burst forth – the paper caught quickly. I gloried in my creation of light.
It didn’t last long.
I had moved too quickly. The gift of the flame this morning was the call to slow down – the call to quiet – the call to intimacy. I breathed in deeply.
Exhaling slowly, deliberately, I coaxed the embers to light a new group of paper – one that had been twisted and crushed with intention. I breathed forth the Breath of Life – of Peace – of Love.
I placed the kindling in a small pile, much closer together – atop the twisted papers. I breathed again, leaning in, with my intention fully in the present moment.
“Here I am,” I whispered, “teach me as You will.”
Come closer. Breathe me in. Breathe me out.
Fire called to my spirit.
Closing my eyes, I focused my intention on my breath – paying attention to every fiber of my lungs. My intercostal muscles pulled to expand my ribs, drawing air deep into the bronchii. I held it there for a moment – long enough to feel the vibrations of life exchanging in my blood stream. Exhaling slowly, deliberately, I leaned in towards the tiny flame.
Fire drew me close today, slowing my thoughts, removing my fears, calming my soul. From the tiny embers, the small flame called to me, urging me raise it up – up into the kindling – higher still into the hardwood and small logs left for us by the previous owner of this home. I was quiet. I listened. I breathed deeply in and out, with slow, deliberate breaths.
Fire entered the wood.
Intimacy is hard work – deliberate attention – deep breathing – drawing close – attending fully.
I understood my call – the call of Sabbath – the call of Fire.
Becoming intimate with our own spirits is not something we are often taught. Our culture, the hurried nature of our daily living, the swirl of the many things that we are convinced we have to get done and the messages of fear and anxiety seeming to come at us from every direction – these things feed the zombie virus of frenzy. They all serve as barriers to intimacy.
Fire – Beloved – Breath of Life — calls us to slow down, calls us to remember who we are. Fire draws us close, calling to us: Breathe Me in. Breathe Me out.
Fire calls us to connect – with ourselves, with one another, with the world. In the midst of the swirling, the ebb and flow of daily life, Fire comes. The Light draws near to bring us peace.
In this season, where people from many tribes and tongues watch with great expectation, spiritual people from many religious traditions gather around a flickering flame. Fire draws us close. Fire connects us all.