I love to camp, and more than that I love campfires.
There is joy in taking care to build a fire. Organizing the wood just right, preparing a space for the burn. Then lighting a small source of flame, even a spark. The spark is fragile. It is vulnerable. A burst of wind or a careless movement can quickly extinguish the newly birthed flame.
The weak and vulnerable spark is carefully fed with small pieces of twigs and sticks. And the flame takes hold. It gets warmer. Then it gets hot. When it is hot enough, it can be fed with without limits. Fueling it in full glory with logs and trees – creation used to give comfort, warmth, and light.
And it burns and it is fed. And if the there is no more wood to add, if the fuel runs low, the fire burns down and runs its course.
As the fire burns down and consumes the last bit of dormant energy left in the smoldering logs, a good stoking can provoke a flare, and a renewed flame.
Rearranging logs that have burned down, allowing oxygen to find new paths to the hottest areas, and adjusting the burnt wood into new arrangements can increase heat and produce warmth for those enjoying the fire. With a renewed flame comes a surge of hope. Even excitement.
But despite stoking our hope is short lived. The fire dims again. We may think that our fires can be stoked and managed and rearranged, and reorganized and the flame will burn on and on.
But unfortunately the new flames are quickly starved of fuel, and they quickly die down, too. As the logs are almost gone, they continue to be stoked, and prodded, and rearranged. We can hunker close to the burnt wood, blow our air into the char, and hope for the embers to return to their warmth and glory. But we have to face the reality that the options are diminishing. And so is our comfort, warmth, and most importantly, light.
The wood has run its course, and without a constant source feeding it new logs full of life and potential, the fire dims and the light fades. It even appears to die.
Where can we find hope? Perhaps it is with the remaining embers and dimly glowing remnants of coal that a new fire can be lit and be fueled. That tomorrow holds a hope that the last vestiges of light can ignite a new flame, in a new fire, in a new day.