When we see a burning man, we love or fear him. We’d burn too, if we get too close. The heat would dry out our fuel and we’d start smoking inside, and then there’d be a spark. Most prize their rotten wood and flee. A few move closer and join the wildfire.
We can see the burning men are cleansed. We can see that the liquid flame has burnt away the dead wood of a hundred parched summers. We can see the source, fiercely gleaming above all of us. We all stand beneath a thousand suns.
We can’t look directly at the burning men, we must squeeze our eyes shut against the radiance. But it hurts to see and we watch our feet so we don’t stumble as we walk.
With heads hung low, we are lost in an endless landscape of thorny bushes. Some of us crouch and draw maps into the dirt, and the rest of us squat eagerly to see. That stone is success, that ant hill is what you must climb. The maps are all lies but they offer solace.
Dampened Fire Sticks
We feel rotting wood in our chests. Every creature is a shambling scarecrow of a thousand dampened fire sticks. Each tied bunch of kindling is meant for a different fire, a different brilliance of light. The burning men fly in a million hues, each unique and unrepeatable. Some of those colors would be the colors of our burning, if we let free the sleeping fire within us.
But we keep our fire sticks damp and cold, we keep our secret selves hidden away within. We worry we’ll be burned to death, we don’t trust in the wildfire and the burning men. We want water and shade, not more heat. We want respite from the wilderness and the thorns.
The burning ones evaporate the water and dispel the shade. They stride through the bushes, and the thorns char to dust as they approach. Some of us follow the cleared trails left by burning men, but usually we seek the place the burning ones went. They all went to the sea. But the sea is useless if you’re not ablaze and the heat of the suns is strongest where the paths of burning men started.
Serpent In The Woodpile
We know what we have to do. In our heart of hearts, we’ve always known. Our suns illuminate us from every side and it’s only our robes that keep us from getting burned. It doesn’t matter where we wander to, if we wear our robes. We must uncover our nakedness and be unashamed to glory in the light. But we can’t.
We hear the accuser within us. It speaks dark truths and whispers about demons and snakes. It says that we can’t be as we are, that we’re unworthy. We’re weak. We’re fallen. And we have no defense. We’re accused, and we’re guilty.
The accuser nests in the dampened fire sticks within. Because it sometimes speaks the truth, and because we’re ashamed, we protect the accuser. We’re allies, us in our robes and it with its hate. In guilt and fear, we cradle the accuser within us away from the burning man and his wildfire.
We’re all guilty as accused. And… we’re forgiven. We don’t have to fight or deny the accuser. Nothing it says matters, even if it’s the truth. Some people speak with the voice of the accuser, but it doesn’t matter when it comes that way either. We’re weak, we’ve failed… and we’re priceless. We’re divine underneath our robes of shame.
Burn It Down
This shambling body of self-investment with its infected heart. What worth is all the ego in the world? And all these rocks and shells we carry about, will we not have to leave them if we go to the sea? But let’s not just disrobe and seek the fire in solitude. Let’s leave a wildfire behind us.
Someone will deny the abusers. Someone will free the enslaved. Someone will cleanse the corruption. Someone will change everything. But it won’t be you or me. The fire has to be big for that. It has to be much bigger than one person can make. It’ll take the heat of a thousand burning men to ignite one burning man with enough light to burn through all the robes. We are the ones who come before.
Let’s disrobe and fly toward the suns, trailing sparks. Tell that woman that she can deny her abuser. Tell that man that he’s worth more than his job. Tell that kid that he can love whoever he wants to love. The accuser hides in a million woodpiles, let’s flush it out as we go. Dropping lit matches.
You don’t have to be skinny or look like a magazine cover. You don’t have to make a lot of money. You don’t have to be educated. You don’t have to do something. You don’t have to be something. You’re already worthy. You’re already loved and you’re already with God. Let’s tell them. It doesn’t always have to be words. We can speak with smiles and hugs too.
The fire just sleeps until you set it free.