You know how it starts out.
You take yourself out into the late sun burning stands of
winter birch. You clear a small damp circle of earth and
put fire to the pages you have with you – Dhamma notes
and pages even the rubbish man, in all his obscurity, is not
welcome to see. And they do not burn.
Then it's a few parchment chestnut leaves, twigs of birch. And,
somehow, you find yourself sitting down, wrapped in your
grandmother's blanket, by a small vibrant fire in an in-pressing dark,
where even the stars are unwilling. Sitting there – the only person who
sent you marshmallows dead – with the flickering uncertainty of
And there it is. One small thing having flared into happening.
Life growing moment-to-moment, warming, sheltering: the
pungent-sweet smoke of elderberry burning, the familiar
front-hot/back-cold, and the loveliness of keeping company
with Night herself.
She sings to me, and the fire sings to be fed – a call and response,
a counter-point, an evocation of release.
Yes, what happens when the pile you'd collected is burnt and
everything around you is burnt? The fire goes out. Embers glow and
cool. Night reveals her full resplendence.
Nothing added, burning ceases: take heart.