Thursday, August 20, 2015

Campfire magic connects us

A campfire always seems to be the perfect way to end a day spent in the outdoors. 
Nothing like a good campfire to warm the hands - and the soul.

Gathering around a campfire for stories and songs, conversation and reflection, follows an old tradition that started eons ago in the days when campfires provided much more than a place for a social gathering. 

At one time in humankind's history, they were needed in order to cook, to stay warm and to keep predators at bay. The evening fire was the focal point for a gathering of the clan or tribe and developed into a social event as a secondary function.

As man evolved over the centuries, the need for such fires became less and less crucial, and in the final months of the 20th century, it is largely symbolic. It is still a gathering place, but it takes its place along side other social facilitators such as the office water cooler, the local pub, the neighborhood coffee shop, the church picnic and countless other commonplace gathering places. Like the evening fire, they all serve to bring people together and provide opportunity to socialize.

There is one main difference, though. One thing separates the fire from all the others.

All the rest are man-made functions. A fire, is, at its heart, a natural element. Man does not create it, although man can produce conditions under which this element can spring into life.

It is that elemental aspect, that magical difference about an evening fire, whether it is a fire in a hearth shared by two old friends or a roaring bonfire that brings together a whole group of people from different backgrounds and beliefs, that makes it so special.

Can't beat campfire-roasted marshmallows.
Who has not sat in front of a fire in the woods at night, listening to the cry of the loon, the howl of the wolf, the whistle of the whippoorwill and not felt that primeval shiver, followed by a primeval comfort to be found only in the light and heat emanating from the campfire? That shiver, that comfort, they serve to remind us that we are human. And while we have created a whole world of facilities and institutions to separate us from Mother Nature, we are still part of Her, not above Her. As much as we may like to think it, we are not invincible, not immune to Nature's whims.

The evening campfire restores to us that part of our humanity that we have forgotten, or at least, neglected. It gives us back the magic we have distanced ourselves from with our overrated technology. It helps us touch the souls of our ancestors in a way that no faded photographs or crumbling gravestones can.

Sometimes, a desire for a campfire is so great,
even a propane-fuelled fire works.

If you take time to stop talking and quiet the voices in your head, if you listen - really listen! - to the crackle of the flames, the sound of your breath, the pulse of the blood in your veins, you may feel a million years of mankind's souls touching with your own, however briefly.

Treasure it, revel in it, soak it up like a thirsty coyote laps up the water in a desert oasis. It is pure magic; not the kind provided by flashy video showman or sly-handed carnival hucksters, but the real magic of the Universal mind. It is the collective soul of humanity connecting with your own being, connecting you with Eternity.

It is usually a fleeting moment, this connection. But in that moment, we can attain the most profound peace we are liable to experience on this planet, even in this second decade of our still-new third millennium.

Does one ever tire of a campfire?
All too soon, all too easily, we lose that connection. The crackle and pop of the fire stirs us from our reverie, bringing us back to the present moment, back to the physical reality of our being. But we need fret not; for it is always there, always waiting for us in the flames of a campfire, in the whisper of the wind through the trees, or in the billion stars that shine down upon us, winking at us, as if to tell us they know something of the Universal mind that we do not.

They wink, but there is no secret, really; it is always there, waiting for us to reach out and connect. 

We simply need to remember to take time to acknowledge it, and it will come to us. The fire of the stars, or the fire from our camp hearth, it is all the same: the light is the key that connects us, gives us the power to reach back to what we were, and what we, in essence, still are.

It is also a source of profound but simple wisdom, wisdom with a message. We need to heed its message; because just as the fire dies if not properly tended, our world will die, if not properly tended. We can choose to let the earth expire. Or we can choose to be proper caretakers, and ensure that it does not. The choice is ours to make, but if we find that connection, it is an easy one to make.

We simply have to choose life over death.                                                    

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