I was a little late leaving for my morning walk.  Just moving slowly I suppose. In my left hand swings a now familiar white bucket laden with bread. In my pocket is my phone. I wonder how many times I will pause to capture a photo of something precious or chuckle worthy. My ear buds are plugged in and draped around my neck.  What music will I choose to accompany my steps. I think that I am ready…

The cedar that leans too far because of storm and earth washing away is still easier to climb over than under. The creek is cold and wandering just as it is every time I wade through it.  The dogs are far ahead with excitement as they always are.  But me…
The closer I come to crossing the fence the more ill at ease I feel.  One leg over…then the other… thankfully nothing catches on the barbed wire this time, clothes or skin.  The field waits quietly for me as it always does.  But, in my center there is an uneasiness.  It doesn’t fade with my steps.  What will be waiting for me today?  And, I think to myself…this is not what joy feels like.  Even as I write this, the gnawing place returns so that I’m not certain if I want to continue…or turn around…and go back…

So many things just the same.  Others have changed.  Sorry, I’ve already jumped ahead of myself in this story.

The last few months have seen some new traffic in the place where I wander and wonder.  People, I mean.  A few have always come from time to time.   To fish or to walk.  I’m used to those and the signs of them.  All good.  I will change my course when I realize they are nearby.  After all, they come so seldom and I’m blessed with this space every day. They become enchanted for a while.  They remember how wonderful it is to be here and visit often.  Soon enough the busyness of life sneaks up on them. They go back to the noise and excitement of the worldly places, leaving this one, once again quiet and unpeopled.  

 I almost said empty.  These woods and fields are far from being empty.  They overflow with all manner of life!  The kind of life that is content to stroll or hop or fly or just be still.   Be still and gaze at the light winding its way through the branches and the leaves until it rests on the water in a shower of tiny stars. A faery dream…

The new traffic is quiet and there’s plenty of room of course, so even that is ok.  But, as of late they are building fires in the evenings.  Fire in a place that is not their own…and when it’s time for them to be somewhere else, they simply go…leaving behind an untended fire.   Sometimes the sparks escape the rocks that protectively surround them.  

So, that explains the bucket.  A few extra steps, a smidgen of water and the night’s leftovers are easily put to rest.  On the upside, it doubles as a lovely way to carry bread for feeding the fish and I feel a bit like a character in Little House on the Prairie. Where is my huge sun bonnet? I wonder if Dobby took it… 

Lately when I cross the fence each morning it isn’t with a peaceful heart.  Rather, there is an anxious wondering as to what awaits me.  What may have happened in the night to change things. 

Ugh, change… the never ending wonderful miserable constant in life…

Fire is frightening.  It can run away from you at lightening speed and you’re helpless before it. If you have ever witnessed a fire raging out of control or the charcoaled bits of life it leaves behind, you know how very tragic it can be. Unchecked it has the power to engulf and destroy.  Quickly!  There is nothing easy about fire.   It is both dangerous and mesmerizing. However it comes, as flames licking at the sky or as coals alive and pulsating with energy.  Red hot embers wait for their turn to rise up and take their place among the others.  

There is a hidden mystery in the heart of  Fire. It also has the power to heal.  A solitary gaze into its rich depths is a search for my own.  How many stories have been told while lazing around its edges. The gentle glow of it entrances us, keeping the teller and the listener tucked into a momentary but timeless embrace.  Within it burns the secrets of both togetherness and aloneness. 

When man learned what could be done with fire, his world changed forever! Suddenly, there was a place of great warmth.  A place to belong.  A place to share.  A means to alter food.  Cooking!  Before man harnessed fire there were no pastries with hot cups of tea alongside them, no baked potatoes with melted butter and cheese, no roasted chicken with herbs.  Did you notice how I put dessert first…just saying.  Fire holds many gifts.  We can warm ourselves through and through, body and soul.  

Bejo once told me that she had purposely burned 20 years worth of personal journals. I was stunned! Oh how fascinating I think it would be to read her thoughts!  As time passes, I think  I understand why my grandmother did what she did. They were her thoughts after all. She had every right to do what she wanted with them. One should listen to a friend or loved one while they have the chance. What they kept quietly to themselves is no more important than what they chose to share with you. I had the gift of her in life. What she chose to share with me is the part of her that she wanted me to have. I wonder if tossing them one by one into the flames was healing for her. Did it help her to let go of a past that left no room for the magnificence of the future? 

The Phoenix!  In Greek legend it is synonymous with the power fire has to transform!  It can both take life and restore it!  The  phoenix lives a tremendously long life until one day it simply bursts into flames and is consumed by the fire.  From the very remnants of that destruction, it rises in a brilliant new life.  Over and over again the fire takes away and then restores.   Out of the ashes of pain the phoenix always rises.  The stories of his heart are written in hot coals on the tips of his wings. The edges are singed with the sorrow and grief of the world…but, when he opens them wide and lets the air catch underneath them…he flies.  Soars to unimaginable heights on fresh new wings. Burning away the past. Clearing the way for a beauty as yet unknown.  Indeed, fire is a mysterious healer.

In every ending there is a beginning.  It may be hard to see.  It is so very small.  But it is there nevertheless.  Fire cools.  Ashes are blown hither and yon by the same invisible air that fanned them into flame a short time ago.  Now, there is a place for the tiniest seed to take hold.  

Whatever the seed is destined to become is already written in its heart.  Whether it will be a delicate flower or a towering tree – its roots will search the darkness for wisdom to grow strong while its blossoms and branches reach for the glorious skies.  It is never ending.  Earth to sky.   Fire to water.  Birth to death.   All so beautifully interwoven in one seamless life. 

My days and my walks have been altered. I have been fighting it…at least on the inside.  I didn’t want this change.  I didn’t ask for it…I don’t really like it.  Nevertheless, here it is.  

Now… I have begun walking to the south side of the lake every evening, across the top of the dam.  Water gushes from the overflow pipe just out of sight.   If I close my eyes, I imagine that I am on an exotic island and it is really the crashing thunder of a waterfall.  Occasionally at dusk my bald eagle trips in over the towering pines and dances with his reflection in the peaceful lake so far below.   He is an absolute joy to me!  One day I will write more of him…

The south field is different, as all things are.  Wading through knee high grasses with cows on my right, I reach the peak of this sweet hill.  My only reward is the only one I need…an endless sky all around me.  I am just high enough to be a part of it and no longer simply a watcher glued fast to the ground.  And the sunsets are so so everywhere!  Every color! Every inch! Every lone and brilliant note in a triumphant song!  To my left and to my right, in front and behind, above and even inside of me every last ray of light bounces in glorious splendor…

this is what joy feels like…

yes, much has changed because of others and their fire building adventures.  
One day the busyness of the world will call to these strangers.  Just as it has to the others before them.  They will answer.  And, stop coming here.  Until then, 

The ashes of life have blown aside leaving me with something sweet and new.  I am embarrassed to admit I had forgotten how much I love the south field and the expanse of sky that stretches out before me in glad welcome.  My constant companions swim more on the south side because there are fewer weeds to tangle them up.  Fewer weeds means fewer snakes! There aren’t so many hidey holes for them to tuck away in.  A supremely good thing.  The soft sand of the dam is just as nice a place to rest as the pier and it always has shade!

The very fire that I fight heals me if I will only let go.

 I read this week that healing takes time. It’s true. All good and proper healing does take time. I pray for that, the healing and the ability to wait gracefully until it arrives…

I find it strange how often I tend to ‘forget’ certain things.  Something always comes along to remind me. It’s never gentle either. The reminder is usually bold with flashing neon lights and a good hearty knock on the noggin.  I wonder how I could have forgotten something so simple… or even slept for that matter,  what with the incessant glaring and pounding headache…

I cannot make someone else care in the same way that I do…that…I must let go of.  

What I can do is…

Care for the little ones that fill my lovely world.  Let the fires of imagination burn bright with words.  Kindle the embers of my heart and let them glow from the inside out with love and compassion. Stay awhile to be a part of the sunset. 

Life is full of stories just waiting to be lived…and then to be shared…come sit with me around the fire and we’ll write a magnificent new one together…

25 thoughts on “embers, ashes and a lovely place to swim

      1. I’m so happy you had a good time. The beaches were beautiful! I’m sorry your first stop was a bummer. The rest seemed to totally make up for it though. But I’m also glad you’re back! I missed you too. You always make me smile. 😜 and thank you 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I will freely admit I have ranted about this because of the dangers. It has caused me great concern. I toned myself down quite a bit for this post. I’m so glad you commented on this aspect. Thank you again! Have a great week 😊


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