Track the Fire
“Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
I yearn for fire. I pray for fire to light up the dark, to cook fresh understandings, and to ignite love.
I fire up words. The words are holy, sacred, like cathedrals and stain glass windows. They are hushed, reverent. They pare to the beauty. They prune to the core. They find the heart of everything and in all things, even discomfort and darkness. They point to a deep truth, that all endings hold the seeds, already germinating, of new beginnings.
“I heard a bear outside the door, so I grabbed the old rifle and charged into the night in my long johns,” he said.
The image caused the six adults in the room to erupt in liquid laughter. The warmth of it burbled out of my heart and spilled into my legs, my arms, and my hands. I plunged into it, hugging myself.
We huddled in the rickety old farmhouse in the thick woods of West Virginia. We huddled on worn couches around a wood stove. Glowing embers and licking flames cast a burnished orange light on satisfied faces. We had finished a supper of savory soup and homemade bread. Our fingers were laced around mismatched wine glasses.
The farmhouse stood near a sinking spring. Such springs are so named because periodically they subside into an underground water network, creating the illusion that they have disappeared.
I was astonished at the strangeness of the place. I was astonished that the house was falling down on itself. I was astonished at the chinks in the walls that allowed the icy fingers of winter and an occasional snowflake to poke through. I was astonished to see old newspapers, colorful comics, stuffed into some of the holes as makeshift insulation. I was astonished at this meager home. I was astonished by the radiant friendship and love that transcended and warmed the space.
I was more at home in sound, strong houses. I was more at home in cities and a corporate career. I was more at home in universities. I was more at home on the ladder of money. Or, so I thought.
“The kick of that old rifle slapped me hard on my butt,” he said. “I realized the bear was just a skinny raccoon who looked as scared as I was!”
Laughter pealed again. We refilled our glasses from a bottle of wine. I was content, belly and heart full. These friends, old and new, transplanted into the rolling Appalachian Mountains, had once defined their lives in other ways. They marched to a drum of meaning, the drum of a life infused with spirit. It had drawn them into simplicity and nature. They were unpretentious, unhindered, real. These were my people.
One of them asked about me. Each of them had journeyed longer and further down the road of life than I had. I was at least ten years behind all of them in age and was dating one who was twenty years older than me. They had ridden the horses of change many times, bucking and bolting, and had held on for the adventure. I felt a little out of my depth.
I shared about my work in corporate communications and public relations. I was a published author who wrote articles about software applications for business. I was proud that despite being young, I was accomplished, and self-sufficient. One of my new friends said, “You don’t sound enlivened by your work. There’s no energy in it for you.”
To say I was crestfallen would be an understatement. I was crushed into silence. In the cramped smallness, an uneasy truth squeezed. While I was grateful for the blessings of my job and the security of my income, I had a distinct sense, a growing knowing, that motivation to continue on the path I was on was running out.
An untended fire flared in my belly that night. The fragrant pine scent in the air stoked it. The loam of earth grounded it. The mountain currents fanned it. The logs crackled with it. Home, they hissed. Home, they hushed. This. Is. Home. Warm. Simple. Earthy. Wild. You.
In that humble cabin under the twinkling skies, enfolded in the mountains of Appalachia, my trajectory was rewritten. I smelled the scent of destiny. I became a huntress. I sought the untamed. I began to track the wild in search of fire. My bravery paid off in a new cycle, a rebuilt life. Recreating it, while not easy, unfolded with ease because it was right. I have since ridden such cycles many times. Doing so has taught me to trust the circle, the wheel, of life.
The world we’re in right now feels like a up-sized version of that cabin. It’s crumbling. It’s a sinking spring. There are chinks in the walls we’ve tried for years to stuff with makeshift insulation. The disruption of the pandemic rages. Our stubborn refusal to embrace the Oneness, our common source, our common humanity, shouts in protest. The chaos is a crush of change that presses us from all sides. And yet, there is so much love sheltered within the storm.
I think every human alive, in some deep private place knows that the motivation to continue our old path has run out. For most, perhaps, this knowing is fearsome. Some grip anguish and hang on to an old story. Some do their best to track the fire, to track love. Most are somewhere in the middle, with their hands over their eyes and fingers in their ears.
The lucky among us will find love, deep love, a fire of their own choosing, and follow it. In the end, it is the only trustworthy guide on this evolving wheel of creation. As we negotiate endings and create beginnings it is love in its fullest form, brave and strong with intuitive knowing, that will light the way Home.
Copyright 2020, Linda Sandel Pettit, Ed.D.
Dr. Linda Sandel Pettit, a priestess-at-heart and retired counseling psychologist, can be found at www.thedrspettit.com. She loves putting her intuitive nature, spiritual understanding and clinical experience in service to others. She is available for on-line consultations. For information about fees and packages, visit BOOK NOW. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.