Even though it’s mid June, the days are cold and wet. I built a small fire just to take the chill off, and thought about the sense of contentment that comes with sitting around a campfire and watching the flames. I’m sure you can remember something similar. The dark night, the cold air at your back, the heat on your face. The sparks hitting the tent roof…I wonder if we feel that because of an inherited memory of prehistory when fire meant safety, security, survival.
And not only that. While we enjoy quiet times sitting like that, listening to the flames eat firewood, most of the time we tell stories. It’s almost a clichĂ© because it’s so common. Why? What is it about that atmosphere that makes us talk in low voices about childhood memories? Or huddle together glancing over shoulders while we listen to a scary tale? Maybe it’s the intimacy, the cloak of darkness.
We all become storytellers sitting near the fire. There’s some odd bond between flames and words. It’s almost spiritual.
Next Friday I am going to join a circle of women around a fire next to the river, for a ceremony of transitions for a few girls I care deeply about and have watched grow and become wonderful young women. I know we are going to tell stories about their childhood, about change, about life. And the fire will sanctify those stories like it has done for thousands of years.
I still want to know why though.