Best Way to Grow a Fire

How many fires do we put out in a day? Sometimes it depends on what "hat" we are wearing or what events are playing out around us. Today a neighbor wearing his homeowner hat shared the woes of dropping foundations and leaks as we discussed the weather.  Wearing my teacher hat today  it was missing papers, lost books, and hurt students that sparked the fires.  Being finals week one student was burning the candle at both ends finishing up projects, studying for tests, and trying to stay awake. Another one was trying to balance completing the semester after missing a week of school from illness.

Each of us needs a fire that fuels our causes, our responsibilities, our passions. How do we build a fire that doesn't burn the property down?  How do we balance what it takes to build a fire while paying attention to space? This poem reminded me tonight of that careful balancing act we all play as we put out and grow fires in our lives. Enjoy.

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

-Judy Brown

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