What is it about a fire?

Just to be clear, this post is not referring to the accidental or arson fire that can devastate people or property, but only on the personal or utility fire.

There is definitely something mesmerizing about a fire. We watch the colorfully dancing flames, the glowing coals, and the golden shadow-light. We breath in the wafting smoky smell and lean into its radiating warmth and find the entire experience absolutely entrancing. Esthetically it connects with us in a visceral way but it may also have a root in primal comfort.

I doubt that there are many of us who doesn’t love the fire in the fireplace, or the outdoor campfire. We celebrate homecoming events with a fall bonfire. We have get-togethers in early Spring as soon as snow backs off to grab our sweatshirts and meet at a fire. We celebrate friendships or events or seasons or life itself, together around the fire. Fall sports events call for tailgating where little portable fires grill up our sacrificial brats or burgers. Family home gatherings often include a fire that may or may not have hot dogs on sticks or some-mores. For many it is the unifying piece of evening gatherings wherever we live. There’s even a huge industry built on having fire pits that you can purchase and put on your backyard deck or patio to entertain. The urban joke is, of course, that you better have some old marshmallows laying there in case the fire monitoring folk check to find out why you have live fire in the city.

The bottom line is there something about that fire that allows us to relax beyond warming our body or cooking our food and possibly connect to a greater spiritual network. Our relationship with fire exemplifies our ability to go deeper into a relaxed state of mild hypnosis, often prompting our own introspection. We find ourselves wandering in our minds, reminiscing, and thinking about good times with fine fellowship. We identify our personal perspectives and our place in a greater whole. We warmly recall people that we have loved dearly but may not be able to be with us and they feel more present. We often take these times to relate stories, sing songs, and share innermost ponderings. As a living history participant who camps a great deal I know that I have missed this evening ritual of comradery most keenly. It is truly amazing to see an entire reenacting encampment at night with candle lanterns and campfires illuminating acres of canvas homes and walk from fire to fire to feel the palpable fireside community.

There is a comfort knowing that food was cooked over fire. There is a comfort in the knowledge that we will be warm and sustained for another night. There is a comfort in knowing that this fire before us at this moment connects us with generations, over decades, and to all others in humankind, in all other countries, in all other scenarios. From the earliest settings of worship and in all faiths, a connective thread of fire can be found, although often now quietly present in candlelight only.

We may not have an active fireplace anymore, certainly not one that we consistently cook our food on, but we still seek the warmth and emotional benefits of a fire. Take a moment and sit by a fire … and dream.

This painting is inspired by fire watchers everywhere and is a 16″ x 20″ oil on canvas called, “Fire dreaming”.

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