Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thoughts From Beside A Vacation Fire

The Need for Good Wood
We heat our home with wood.  I enjoy the primal way of staying warm.  Daily trips to carry in firewood, and the occasional hauling out of ash, help connect my mind and my body to my existence.  

Our stove is a newer model, and is highly efficient.  When well-seasoned fuel is used there is much heat, little ash, and the chimney breathes free of dangerous creosote.

I’ve learned however—from many seasons of heating with wood—the importance of gathering wood a full year-of-months before it is needed.  Firewood requires time to season, allowing quiet breezes and noisy winds to blow.  It needs a summer of heat to prepare it for its winter use.  Firewood needs time to be reduced to nothing but fuel.

I can hear readiness in the musical clank split wood makes when thrown into the sheltered pile for its final weeks before burning.  I feel the difference in the weight when I carry it into our family room. When the wood is ready to burn, it tells me.  

But oh those awful winters when fuel is gathered too late to season well.  There is no song as it collides in the pile.  It begrudges being carried to the fire.  It hisses and simmers on the coals as it seasons in the stove—releasing toxic moist creosote up the chimney in dark smoky rebellion.  The stove glass clouds, then stains a sickening brown with the polluted bi-product of wet unseasoned wood.  It resists service at all costs. 

Seasoning the Soul
My spirit also needs seasoning.  I’m simply not my best when the moistures of media, constant e-communications and over-busyness saturate my days.  There is a clear correlation between seasoning-quiet, and soul-efficiency.

For those who create for a living, taking the time for seasoning is a tough investment to make.  It is the act of burning, after all, which pays the bills!  Is not production what matters—what is noticed?  

Tough Questions for Those Who Create for a Living
How long has it been since you have stepped away and allowed your soul to season?  How long has it been since you’ve felt the kick of creativity?  Have you been forcing production, and not joyfully creating?  Have you found yourself doing “new” work, while feeling no joy in the process?  Are you hissing and simmering and producing smoky sludge, when you know you can light-up and inspire!  When you’ve known yourself to be a source of renewal and life to those for whom you burn?

Step away.  Put yourself on hold.  Stop giving yourself to a simmering half-yield.  Reserve your forced attempts at production, until your heart sings and transports lightly to the nascent coal-bed of creation.  

Give again!  Live again!