I saw fire fall from the sky this week. Then I realized it was a leaf. A burnt orange leaf was spiraling rapidly downward as I rounded a curve in the canyon. The wind there whirls in that vortex much differently than in the open field where sometimes it can seem as though the leaves are falling in slow motion, meandering like a mountain stream around a pathway of rocks.
In the gorge driving alongside the river rapids it’s a space of realization, for me—things that appear one way while standing still transform—I can see them closer to what they are, because I am closer to what they are, spiraling there.
I have felt all sorts of torn over this summer. On one hand exhilarated, on another sad. Then…amazed all over again.
I didn’t realize when I began this summer the way fire would be a theme. I’m not sure I’ve even realized it fully yet. I was surprised to recognize how quickly my mind would jump from having difficulty discerning a leaf to confusing it with fire. I suppose that’s what is possible when your mind has been immersed in the context of wilderness wildfires for months?
I didn’t know when I began my Qigong Instructor Training that fire would also be such a theme there as well. What a feverishly strong rising power fire is. What a way-maker, revelator, instigator—which is to say—destroyer. And, if a destroyer then therefore a creator…but how easy is that to see when standing still?
…standing still… in the open field where sometimes it can seem as though everything is falling in slow motion, meandering like a mountain stream around a pathway of rocks…We feel as though it is us hitting the rocks.
It’s one thing to stand above the river rapids, it’s another to be within them, the space of realization, transformation, where you can see yourself for what you are, because you can finally feel the pain, feel anything…way-making, revelatory instigating, destruction, birth. What a feverishly strong rising power fire is—even when we mistake it for falling from the sky.
One of the things that keeps us fire-safe, in truth or by deadly illusions, is a deep knowing of meaning within it. In this way, it’s as though it is no longer us against torrent or wilderness fire, we are torrent, we are fire. We are reborn. Meaning changes everything.
I have often immersed myself in and rehearsed one of my children’s words to me, it was River who said it; “We learn from your absence as much as from your presence.” This was difficult medicine at first.
At the highest point in a form called Crane Qigong the practitioner leans forward with one leg in the air behind while simultaneously extending the arms behind the back …releasing… fingers and toes all stretched and pointing up, chest wiiide open, taking in the deepest inhalation. The heart, open—it’s what I want—on every level.
I had to ask a dear friend not too long ago if I sounded bitter. I needed to say out loud that I was in danger, I could see the wilds on fire, and I needed to hear back that it’s okay… that there are things that need working through, releasing—as long as I lean forward again, aand again, chest wiiide open, taking in the deepest inhalation…not thinking fire is always a thing to fear, a thing apart from me… but rather, letting myself rise too, learning from fire, gathering vision of what it becomes in time, not being destroyed by it.
One of the first things that struck me and grabbed my attention nearly four years ago when I was introduced to Qigong was to learn about the heart fire. That there is a place of fire in the heart affirmed a deep knowing, that even still frightened me. Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches not to let it burn too hard or too low. It seemed to me there had to be a very physical way of working this out—that this is a need. It was my need.
Mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, older generations, they used to put their hands and words and nurture on their children, young and adult alike, and help them birth through life at every new stage, learn how to live in our fires…releasing or nourishing…We used to know how to let them…now we are often alone.
Many of us legit have to learn how to be our own mothers, fathers, elders, spouses, siblings…midwives…friends, yet still believe we are not alone. This is hard.
Often the truth is that we can see bright reflections in the people we are given but we’re all often swirling so fast…it’s not that we don’t recognize each other, it’s that at first it scares us that we do. Fear is always the invitation into the real, but mercy does it take a long time to realize that, to cherish those (people and things) who would be fire in our lives, to give back to them all that they give to us…not bitterly, rather generously…which is to say, honestly, fully, unafraid—in our essence, in the wind, in the fire, in the rivers…
What help we need to learn to be the way of fire as way-maker, revelator, instigator—which is to say—destroyer. And, if a destroyer then therefore a creator…but how easy is that to see when standing still? We have such need to learn how to rise like fire, flow like water, swirl like the wind. This too is hard, because it often means we have to learn how to go first—or at least feel like that’s what is happening—no matter how many will misunderstand, misinterpret, mis-see between a leaf and a life, a-real-beating-heart just trying to learn how to live in their own fire…just like them.
We have to learn how to be absent sometimes and let River’s words sink deep into our bones, …that even our absence could be a blessing. We can let go sometimes. We can hold ourselves sometimes. We can let ourselves be held sometimes.
Hope comes in the most unexpected of ways. Of course it does. Hope, by design, is intended to catch our breath, widen our pupils, suspend our expectations. Don’t be afraid. Mercy is a valid teacher.
But if (or when) you are afraid (like I often am) may I be a friend to you? The one that says, it’s okay… there are things that need working through, things that need releasing—as long as you lean forward again and again chest wiiide open, taking in the deepest inhalation…in the wind, in the fire, in the wilds, in the now. You are, most definitely, not alone.
I saw fire fall from heaven this week.
P.S. I’m trying to both be faithful to this process I find myself in and of benefit to you. I warmly welcome your feedback. Anything from, “Raynna, what?!” to “I hear you.” 🙂 I thank you for it all. I thank you for being here. (Subscribe here if it feels a little more like “oh yeah”, than “umm what?”)
You can read the previous post in this series on Hope here.
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