Wednesday, October 10


"Inside the fire"
Aniak, Alaska
October 2007

One of my daily jobs, in this new "mother and house-wife" life that I lead lately, is the one of tending the fire and keeping it alive all day long. It's our only source of heat. Yes, there is an oil stove under the stairs, but we are hoping to use it only when temperatures drop below -20C (more or less 0F). Brrrrr......

Living with fire is a new experience for me. I've never had it in my life on a daily basis. Fire has always been a sporadic thing: during vacations, camping trips, or those moments in which a lit fireplace adds a romantic touch to a lazy winter afternoon.

Six years ago, I shared a weekend with a Lakota Native that spoke to us about his culture's "Sacred Fire." It is a ritual that facilitates the transition of the spirits from this world to the next. When a loved one dies in the community, a man of the family starts a sacred fire. It must stay lit for four days and four nights. In this tradition, men protect the sacred fire and women give them support and food during the process. Smoke leads the way and becomes the connection thread between both worlds.

Each and every one of us carries inside a sacred fire. Its flame can be more or less awake, and even at times it may look like it is completely dead. But no, this flame never dies. It is dormant, transformed in amber and hiding under the ashes. It waits patiently for the moment we have the courage to question our own inner emptiness, look at it directly, and feel its chill. Only by doing this does the fire resume its dancing liveliness. Only when we pay attention to it and take care of it. Only when we take care of ourselves. And only by doing this can we take care of others and at the same time allow others to take care of us.

I must care for my sacred fire in order to care for our fire... I must tend the fire...

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