Philippe Jaccottet says that “Love, like fire, can only reveal its brightness on the failure and the beauty of burnt wood.” Love, like fire, is consuming and catalytic. Ferocious and unruly, it incinerates and reawakens with luminous intensity. Love, like fire, is a Creative force; a burning purposefully lit with the intent of setting off a symmetry of replenishment, restoration, and care. Love is a fire that creates space and inspires growth; a fire of reverence and responsibility, a fires that carries prayers and calls out to life.
The undergrowth of a forest is called the Understory, it is often a place of stunted-growth due to a lack of light; a density induced constriction bred in the tolerance of the dark. Fire-stick farming is a means by which to release the grip of the Understory that withholds the forest’s ability to flourish.
We suffer because of the Understory that lives deep below the canopy of who we are; suffocating from the twining spires of thistles and dead things that hide us from the sun; places dense with regret and decline, stunted places thick with failure and still-born blossoming. These are places desperate for the sacred gifts of love and fire. These are the places that can be the most difficult to attend to, but they are also the places that most necessarily the attention of well-lit flame.
In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer says that “We all carry a piece of that sacred fire within us”; it is the fire of our own hearts and spirits, and she writes that “We have to honor it and care for it.”
Love, like fire, seeks to help rather than to hurt. But, to do so it must be allowed to flicker and blaze. And when it does so, we discover that there is a sweetness to the flames; a sugary taste only arising from the exposure to intense temperatures, when all our stored energy and volatility turns honeyed and golden – the candied kindness of the fire.
Though it is the most unlikely of places, it is there, within the tenebrous soot of what once was that we bear witness to the beauty of something being wonderfully made from the burning debris of our letdowns and failures.
The inferno that scorches the earth of who we are releases a richness into the exposed soil of ourselves. Inhabiting the boreal forests of our being there are serotinous seeds that can only burst into maturation following the blasting intensity of a blaze. Once the fire has shed the shields of these seeds, only then can they begin to germinate.
Love, like fire, is the amber and ocher of our becoming as it gives itself to the ground of green growth.
It is the fire ecology of our human condition, and it is our sacred duty to burn…
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