Thus far this year, neither my wife or I have needed to turn the household heater on; partially because it has been a rather warm winter in this part of the country. It was in the 70s last week. We have only had a few really cold days, such as today when we awoke to below freezing temperature, which is cold when acclimatized to the local southern weather. I would have considered this a nice warm day during this time of year when I was living in Ohio. The other reason that the heater has not been needed is because the few cold days have been combated by using our wood burning stove. I think that I prefer it this way. Sure it’s a lot of work but something primal calls that this is proper. As such I have learned some very strong lessons about hearth work.
The fire in the hearth is the same as that which warms our bodies. It is energy and it heats. Literally it is fire that keeps the house warm and makes it a place that is livable. Likewise, it is the heat of our bodies that is a sign of life. It is the warmth provided by tending our spiritual inner fire that warms our spirit through the cold night and winter. By tending that inner spark we make our life a happy and kind place by which we are nurtured by its warmth.
If there is to be warmth; there must be work. It is not easy to keep a fire going in the hearth or in one’s heart. There must be a willingness to venture out into the cold. Practically speaking, to fetch more wood, but it is in the depths of the shadow places of our being that we find the fuel, the strength, of our Higher Self that warms us until the Dark Night of the Soul passes and the Dawn comes.
To build a strong fire in hearth and heart, the process must start will small steps. Without kindling it is very hard indeed to get flame to stick to the larger logs that keep the fire going. Building up the spiritual fire at the center our life takes time and starts small. Knowing the sound of our own heart does not begin until we have taken the small step to listen.
Once there is a fire going the work is not done. To quit now as if some goal had been reached would be to allow the fire to die. The fire must be tended. Sometimes the coals must be stirred, the logs rearranged, or the air flow altered. The same is true in regards to walking a spiritual life of which we are mindful. Sometimes effort must be put into stirring ourselves into action, even completely rearranging aspects, or making tough decisions in regards to what parts of life we will allow to grow and which will not.
At the center of this process stand our Ancestors. Reflect back and know that all that have gone before us had to tend flames, both literally and figuratively. The hearth was the center of their life and heart and also, even if we have no literal fire-place, there is a flame at our center for which we tend.
"Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path."