As my prince & I have been talking about possibilities for dates this past year, it came up that I love (controlled!) fire. And since we don’t have a fireplace & my prince doesn’t like camping, my experience of larger fires is limited to the Easter Vigil fire (Thanks to our new priest :)) and those rare occasions when someone invites us over for a fire (maybe once a year?).
Ever since, we’ve kept an eye open for ways to make a fire possible in our own backyard, and when my prince found a firebowl on sale (cheaper than we could build a firepit & more portable!), he brought one home.
It’s been sitting in the basement for months.
First it was too cold (snow on the ground!), then too wet, then too mosquitoey, then too cold again…finally, everything lined up for a perfect night out. My prince had suggested a walk. I asked if we could have a fire when it got too dark for walking. He thought the fire could serve as the entire date. Works for me :)!
Anybody else planning to do this would probably have lots of fun food options (like cooking over the fire!). I did what I could with the limitations we have. My prince’s menu was Smoky Cheeseburgers (without the cheese–used to be one of his favorite meals until dairy became a problem), potato salad and homemade kosher dill pickles. Even without the cheese, my prince said the burgers are still one of his favorite ways to have ground beef (need to file that one!).
Moses “helped” (on top of my prince’s back–he’s a little camouflaged). And no, I didn’t put him there! That’s a trick he came up with all by himself–my prince has to be careful whenever he bends over, lest he get locked in that position by a reclining cat!
Finally we headed outside. We were pleased to discover that the firestarters we made a couple months ago worked really well 🙂 (you can see one in the center, under the wood). The one we used was still burning when the rest of the fire was well underway).
The ground was too wet to sit on directly (it rained most of the week), so I dug out a lounge that’s been in the basement for time out of mind (I’m not even sure where it came from…). Something a little wider would be nice, but we made do :).
(We managed to settle in a little more comfortably when we had more than ten seconds between hitting the camera timer & getting into position!)
It was a lovely evening :). Mostly we just rested in each others’ arms & watched the fire, but we did sing a little. I started with what I remember of “Let the Flame Burn Brighter” and “Holy Fire” & my prince chimed in with “Healer of My Soul,” while I sang harmony (I love singing harmony with him!!).
The dancing flames took me back to the Easter fire, and to the invocation to the Holy Spirit to inflame our hearts with the fire of divine Love. I reflected that the fire of hell is out of order–a wildfire, as it were–while the flames of Heaven are a blaze of love that lights and warms the mind and heart in the perfect order which is the will of God.
My prince noted that he’s always loved the embers and their vivid color.
People speak of embers as if the fire’s dying, but they’re really the heart of a mature fire, keeping the rest of the flame burning, as the contemplative life under-girds the active life and makes it possible. We compared spiritual emotional highs (conferences, retreats, “mountaintop experiences”, etc.) with lighting a ball of crumpled newspaper. You get lots of excitement and action, but without the more the substantial fuel of spiritual reading and study, doctrine, persistence in prayer, etc., the fire will quickly die out.
The evening was restful, connective, intimate. I’m gaining a new appreciation for why fireplaces are popular!
The fire was ebbing as our bedtime neared, so we just let it burn out on its own.
The following week (this week), since the warm weather held out, we decided to have another fire–mostly, “play it again, Sam!” except that this time we didn’t have to put the fire bowl together first! I traded the lounge for a blanket & foam cushion. It wasn’t so cramped & it was dry enough that we could get away with it!
This time I started the conversation by commenting on a writing exercise I’d found recently, of writing a letter to yourself as if from your eight-year-old self. My prince asked what life was like when I was eight & told stories from his childhood. It wasn’t as uplifting as the conversation around the previous fire–I don’t much like thinking of my childhood–but it was still restful “together time”.
Thank You, God, for this St. Martin’s summer :).