Put Another Word on the Fire


For the past two years, a rite of the holiday season was attending a solstice fire on the farm of a friend of a friend. It is an occasion when people, meaning and setting converge to create a memorable experience. To the observer, (at least me, as the observer) there is a movie-esque surreal quality to the event. The farm is an organic farm,  nestled in the foothills that form the east boundary of the Treasure Valley. It is situated in a way that makes it seem you could walk up the hill and step onto the moon, when it rises. On the grounds, 30-50 bundled-up, handsome, intelligent, healthy, mostly organic people cheerfully mill about or chat with hands wrapped around steaming drinks. Then, they circle a large fire holding pieces of paper or wood bearing words until they are ready to send their aspirations for the coming year out into the universe by giving them to the flames. Most people share their words, many explain them, a few step forward, toss, and step back in silence, and one or two will tell stories about their words. Then, when all the hopes are in the sky,  someone tries to start singing, and laughing ensues. It is an utterly fantastic night in a low-key and profoundly meaningful way.

This year I wanted to share the experience with Andy, but He-Who-Bawks-New-Experiences rejected my proposal of attendance. When I believe it’s genuinely important he does something, I override him, and pull out the Because-I-Said-So card if his protests persist; but I didn’t this time, because in the big picture perspective, it seemed better for us to stay home.

So, last night, in honor of the winter solstice, I dragged the fire pit from its winter home to its place on the patio and built a fire. Then, Andy and I wrote the thing we most want to manifest in the upcoming year and fed them to the small, struggling flames.  Andy threw his aspiration on the fire first. I suspected he intended to keep it to himself, or hoped it would theatrically reveal itself as it burned, but once it was ash, he was compelled to divulge it. I won’t tell you Andy’s word because it is not mine to share, but I am proud of his choice and the consideration he showed in choosing it.

In 2010, my aspiration was “Trust”, in 2011, “Focus”. This year, my word was BALANCE. Our small patio fire pit flame and gathering of two was not the grand gathering and blaze of the farm, but was just right for us. On Solstice, I created the balance I am choosing to seek this year. A rather good start, I think.


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