Beginning Hope

Several months ago our daughter mentioned she was in the mood for a fire. I concurred, a fire would be wonderful. Fall was stirring in the air, winter soon to follow, and a blazing, cheery fire in the backyard would be perfect. We reminisced about old fire experiences and imagined how great this one would be. Smiles started upon our faces and warmed our hearts as we talked. It was a special moment of sparkling eyes and fire-dreams… but no actual fire was ever built. It wasn’t a good time. There was too much to do. Life must go on. So weeks and even more months passed by with the occasional fire-wish breathed and sighs of want exhaled. The idea kept knocking persistently. But work and school persisted more, and the musts and to-dos of daily living knocked even louder. The great fire idea remained a delightful, but distant thought.

Until one night we finally did it.

Maybe it was the new year vibes lingering on that helped us realize a bit of simple wisdom: if we don’t just stop, set a date and make this happen, it never will. The cool months will pass, Summer will be upon us, and the opportunity will have drifted by untouched, unfulfilled, un-lived, one more year and moment and memory lost. So we stopped. We stopped doing what we normally did, rearranged priorities, and started a fire.

It took a little time of course. Something I always forget when it comes to fires; the good ones, the lasting ones take time. My husband, the steady and sure scientist that he is, never forgets. I dusted off a leaf-piled, cobwebbed chair and sat down to watch the process. I love seeing an idea go from nothing to something, and there’s nothing like the something of a fire. It’s all about sparks: first the spark of the idea in our hearts; then the spark of the axe upon wood, splintering big chunks into smaller pieces for kindling; the spark of fear in my eyes as the axe comes close to my husband’s fingers (“Are you sure we should be doing this in the dark?”); sparks of excitement, sparks of anticipation, sparks of joy; the small teepee of wood built just right, stuffed with tiny pieces of paper just so… impatience sparking my insides as I want to see it burst into flame already.

And then the spark of the first match, the best part of all. Energy surges inside me as I see in an instant the nothing to something; dark to light, dull, flat brown to colorful, blazing life, from wondering, waiting silence to crackle, sizzle, pop and zing! The spark, suddenly alive and flaming, lights up the night. Now upon the kindling, now catching on, fanned and furious the sparks fly up and out, whipping around this log and that, under and over, fanciful, ferocious flames that dance free at last. Delight sparks the heart instantly, warmth and magic and smiles unite as the spark grows bigger, bolder, brighter still. A blazing fire rises before me and the joy of it as tangible as the sparks that fly, mesmerizing, intriguing, enchanting, energizing, renewing, revitalizing. The reality around is changed. Dark to light, dull to bright. Peace within, all is right.

As I sat in this cozy place of new energy and life it made me wonder: how alike is this to our own lives? When is the last time a fire blazed within us, bringing enchantment and joy, intrigue and delight? When it comes to sparks in our hearts or souls, when is the last time we felt a spark ignite, let alone let it fly? How long has it been since passion for life in the everyday– at work, school, home–lit us up and filled us with peace? When it comes to dreams and ideas, passions and purposes, how long has it been since your own soul sparked?

We all have dreams of what life could be like if given free reign to choose it. Some of these dreams and notions have been there forever, like wood stacked on the side of the house. They sit, waiting and ready, but somehow rarely lit, rarely taken down to try and build something that could set our hearts ablaze and add beauty and warmth to our lives, and to those around us. Too often it seems we let our schedules and the perceived pragmatics of life take precedence over passion and pleasure, deeming what is already known as more important a reality than the reality waiting to be created by what might be. That would require belief that our passions are more than just frivolous fantasies. It would require belief that we are called on this earth for pleasure and purpose more so than for work just-to-pay-the-bills. It would require belief that the sparks of our souls–the crazy dreams, wild ideas and unrelenting interests–are there for good reason, for beautiful and life-enhancing ends that we, and the world, needs fulfilled to be a better place. It would require belief that when a spark sparks it’s also meant to fly.

Sometimes beliefs need to be fanned from spark to flame in order to make life all that it’s meant to be. This is my passion and purpose, what I do for my life work, and my hope for this column. It is my hope to help you believe again, or for the first time, that you, and life, are meant to blaze, sparkle and shine. It is my hope to help you find your own spark and love your life more, to see that how you are wired and created–your personality, strengths, life-long passions and crazy dreams– are there for a purpose, for pleasure, for meaning, for making a difference. It is my hope that the sparks of your soul will fly high, catch your breath and not let you go. May they burn brighter and blaze hotter so you’ll stop thinking “it’s too crazy” or “someday” and instead see that “crazy” is really “creative”, “courageous” and “colorful”, and “someday” needs to be right here, right now because the world can’t go another day without you. I will be praying with each word I write that you will not fight it or hide it, but let those sparks fly. Your spirit is meant to soar, and it will with each spark set free, and joy of living will be more fully yours.

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