How do we keep the fire alive?

What’s the best way to BUILD a fire?

Of course, many will argue that there IS a very best way to build a fire, and over 200,000 google sites will give us advice. But if we were to go camping, you would enjoy your method, and I mine.

Some would use their carefully prepared and carved kindling, others fire starter; someone else might scour the bush for birch-bark, while other’s might toss on a bit of gasoline if no one is watching.

There is no one way, and in fact, it’s likely that most of us really like OUR way of doing it.   Teepee?  Log cabin? Kindling laid this way and that? Newspaper?   “No!” cry the purists.   “More wood now?”   “No!” cry the experts.  Interesting…

What’s the best way to KEEP a fire going?

Here again, most of us will have our (sometimes strong) preference, and “way.”

Have you ever carefully built a fire, only to have someone else come along and recklessly “toss” on a fire-killing log? How many family disputes have broken out over this serious faux pas?  How many friendships strained by the naivety that this kind of thing doesn’t really matter?  We likely have our preference for how to start and build a fire, and also our own unique method for nourishing the fire along into full flame and roaring life.

What’s the best way to keep a fire alive, OVERNIGHT?

Aha! The “special skills” unit!

You can’t stay awake all night! (…for some reason). You MUST keep the embers alive!  How?  Back to the experts perhaps, with counsel to spread over the now hot coals some light covering, moss perhaps; partially smothering, less oxygen, but not completely consuming the fuel, so that in the morning we can uncover those embers and blow them back into life!  How to maintain the fire while we have to go away?  Let me tell you my way!

“Keep the home-fires burning.”  Not just a World War 1 song by Ivor Novello , but of course, the well-known idiom for keeping things going on the home front, or at the centre of affairs, while other things are tended to.

How do you fall in love?

How do you keep that love going? (Aflame, to stick to the metaphor).

And how do you tend to this love (fire) when you must be away? Apart?

“Hang the experts!” 

…they’re already telling us the BEST (only?) way to make a bed, uncork a bottle of wine, blow our nose, and go for a walk. We likely remember something, of how we somehow, “fell in love.” 

The very word, “falling” reminds us that we may not have been as organized and clever as all that.  No, we discovered something of enchantment and indescribable delight…  and then we began to think, quite frankly, rather poorly.

How DOES one “fall in love” then?

We can share memories, and this we must do, as they are often great stories, that first catching blaze and wild-fire.

And truly, this part of the journey is often such a mix of joy and pain, of determination and confidence, of mystery and confusion. “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know at all.” declared Pascal. In love, and in “falling in love” we are thrust into the heart of a fire, and one that very often changes our lives forever.

Fire.  On November 23, 1654, Pascal fell headlong into an encounter with God; an experience now known as the “Memorial.”  For hours, he could only repeat the words “Fire, Fire, Fire!” over and over. 

“Boy SHE’S hot!” someone might remark.  The metaphor rolls on and on, and we get it. 

Remember the pounding excitement in this number one hit  by Billy Joel?

“We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire…”

         ~ Billy Joels, Storm Front, 1989  


Fire means life, heat, and perhaps most importantly, survival.

We likely all have our own story about how we encountered the fire of first love, and hopefully, the fire at the start of the relationship we’re in today.

How’s the fire going?

History is filled to overflowing with stories of love. Perhaps there really isn’t a larger story. From Wagnerian Operas, to Shakespearean sonnets, from Homer’s Iliad, to Eros, the young son of Aphrodite.  All we need is love?

But love dies.  If not cared for the flames lessen, the hearth cools, the light dims. This change is often regarded as acceptable, reasonable. It just happens. The author Sheldon Vanuaken refers to this as “creeping separateness.” (more on this in the “Naked, and Not Ashamed” post; click here)

In her brilliant little book, “Gift from the Sea,”  the famous aviator, Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes ”…like its parallel in physical passion, the early ecstatic stage of a relationship cannot continue always at the same pitch of intensity. It moves to another phase of growth which one should not dread, but welcome as one welcomes summer after spring. But there is also a dead weight accumulation, a coating of false values, habits and burdens which blights life. It is this smothering coat that needs constantly to be stripped off, in life as well as in relationships.”

I think this is an excellent picture of what often happens in our love lives. The various things (false values, habits and burdens, etc.) which so easily “blight” our lives, and which, somehow, need to be stripped off.  (from “Naked & Not Ashamed Post)


How might you comment on, or answer these questions?

How have you experienced this “creeping separateness” in your own life?

How do you try to “strip off” the coatings that “blight” your closest relationship?

What ideas can you share as to how do you fuel the fire of your own loving?

And… for those times when you are apart, what do you do to keep the home hearth hot?

2 Responses to “Fire!”

  1. jane says:

    The ‘separateness’ began to creep in when, well … when we started having children! 19 years and 4 kids later … we’re thinking that the coatings that “blight” our relationship might best be stripped off by getting rid of the children. Not all at once of course! We’ve started with just one at a time, and for short periods… so as to adjust well. So far … so sweet … we’re adjusting:) The new space and dynamics that surface, even during a short time, have fuelled the fire!

  2. Daren says:

    Q: What ideas can you share as to how do you fuel the fire of your own loving?

    A: Ask a question about something the person loves. Closeness comes when a person is invited to share themselves by talking about what they love.