The last few Falls we've been burning a fire on a wide tree stump in the backyard. Beats paying a tree guy who knows how much to remove the stump, plus its become a Fall comfort when the evenings begin to chill.
Fire on a Stump
Boy scout skills kick in deciding what style of campfire to build. A log cabin fire? A teepee fire? Then there's always building a small teepee inside a big log cabin. Lawn chairs pulled up a yard or so from the warmth, an Ultralight Michelob in hand, we settle down telling old stories while staring into the dancing flames.
After a while my mesmorized gaze fades to childhood memories of campouts, when I learned to venerate the inner mystery of the campfire. Years later I'd read John Senior's book The Restoration of Christian Culture, a kind of spiritual blueprint for post-modern Catholics to live a traditional, realist, poetic life in the home. Senior loved fires. I don't remember what he said, but it was along the lines of ancient poets pondering the mysteries of life and the universe through this perennial tradition of the fire. Whether in the fireplace or on top of a tree stump in the backyard.
What do I discover gazing into the flames of the fire? There is something mysterious, deep, eternal. I can't help but first think of God in the 3rd Person of the Holy Ghost, who came down on the Apostles and Blessed Virgin Mary at Pentecost in the form of Fire. Or the great Easter fire lit outside Catholic Churches at the Easter Vigil, reminding us of the spiritual, cleansing fires of our Baptism.
There is more to discover in the flames. Memories of backpacking trips with my dad (RIP), a yearning for everything that is more natural and poetic in life, the mysteries of energy in the cosmos.
We plan to have another fire Saturday evening. Maybe I'll break out a little Spirits and a cigar. When I stare off into its flames, I wonder what other mysteries I will discover.