Fire

There is something about a fire.

I love it.

I think most of us have childhood memories of social evenings around a fire. Any good South African kid knows about braai, about cooking on the coals under the stars and listening to the adults tell stories around the fire late into the night. It’s a magical feeling, gazing into the flames and hearing stories about things that happened far away or long ago. Sometimes we have favourite stories that we love to hear again and again, word for word. It’s comforting and familiar.

Maybe I was just lucky, having grown up in a rural area where fire side stories were a part of life. The number one means of entertainment and the height of socialising. When I was a kid a Friday night fire was the heart and soul of social media.

But that is just the one type of fire. Typically it’s a roaring fire. It snaps and crackles and shoots sparks high into the stars above.

There are as many different kinds of fires as there are moods, really.

There are celebratory fires, purging fires, cooking fires, disastrous fires and good old fashioned winter warming fires.

It is usually a social thing, but in recent years I have learned a different kind of comradeship or feeling of connection to fire.

The kind of fire I have learned to love best of all is the low, quiet fire that burns in my fire place late into the night. Sometimes I will have friends with me, then voices become hushed and the stories soft. Often, though, I will sit at that fire alone.

That is when I love the fire best of all. I can go between reading a book and gazing at that quiet, licking blue flame without really registering when I make the change between them.

The fire itself seems to take on a persona. It’s my companion on the quiet wintery evenings when the children are asleep. I can’t help thinking of its timelessness while I get lost in that flame. I don’t think that it was the use of fire as an implement that signified the evolutionary leap between people and animals, I think it was the conversations we got to have with our souls when we learned to sit and look into the flames.

It always seems to me like life speeded up. If our bodies burn food for energy to live our lives, then the fire consuming its fuel is just like life at high speed. It’s beautiful, it produces warmth and light which can be of great service to those around it, or it can destroy them. In the end it always has to go out. But the coals from a good warm fire can keep on glowing for a long time after it’s gone. I hope that I can be the kind of fire that will keep glowing. That will unite souls and warm hearts even after it’s gone.

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