random thoughts on the elements – fire

Quelled by water, contained by earth, fuelled by air.

Every Summer we look to the horizon, alert to the smell of smoke. We track the weather forecasts for hot days, the risk of lightning, the hope of rain, and which direction the winds will come from. We live in a bush fire prone area. Fire is frightening, it threatens our properties and our lives.

Fire can be strong, powerful and destructive. It can also be gentle, warm, and healing. That’s the nature of life.

Fire is the life force. We cannot live without the sun – that enormous ball of fire, our star. The rising and setting of the sun are a daily reminder of birth and death. The seasons which are the story of the earth’s journey around the sun remind us of the ebbs and flows of our energy throughout our life.

Seeds sprout  by receiving the sun’s warmth in the earth and the seedling pushes up to meet the sunlight. The sun sustains its growth and ripens the fruits. We look to the sun to tell us the time of day. Although we now have electric light, the rising and setting of the sun still sets the tone of our day. We shield ourselves from the summer heat and sit in the sun in the winter to warm our bones.

What is my relationship to fire?

I have a passion for certain causes – animals, nature, children.

I tend not to have strong emotions anymore. I used to. I would get “fired up” over injustice and inequity, all of the wrongs wrought upon the creatures and the earth by man. My airy nature fuelled the fire. It’s the reason I could not be a professional working in the environment or animal welfare. It would break my heart.

Over the years I’ve learnt that strong emotions arise from fear. Anger is fear expressed loudly. As earth contains fire, grounding oneself can provide perspective and calm.

My favourite Aesop’s fable is the Wind and The Sun. By shining warmly on the man, he was moved to take his overcoat off. History has provided many human suns – Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela – passionate and kind. Thich Nhat Hanh in his essay on Interbeing reflected “my sun, my heart”.

“May the flame of my awareness burn as brightly as the sun!” OBOD
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