This I Believe

Karen - Hazel Green, Alabama
Entered on June 5, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: nature
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in fire. I believe in the careful fires my father taught me to build, log on log, each laid just so to provide the perfect fuel for a controlled, long-lived blaze. I also believe in the roaring bonfires lit at the end of the season to reduce great piles of brush to ash. I believe in children’s campfires, the fires around which songs are sung and stories told of other nights reflected through time in the dancing flames.

I believe in the blue gas fires in my grandmother’s stove, fires that lit with a hiss and pop, then cooked with only the slightest height the meals of Sundays and holidays, food of friends and family, food of the summer garden, of funerals and wedding showers.

I believe in fireworks with their beautiful guiltless explosions of light and noise, and the soft glow of the cigars my uncles smoked to light the tiny wicks and inspire the memories of other summer nights, the stories of other guiltless pleasures.

I believe in fireflies, in faerie lights that tempt you further into a soft, sweet darkness heavy with life, lights that lead you on without ever showing you where you walk.

I believe in lightning, and the sudden rush of chill and rain it heralds in the thick damp atmosphere of a July afternoon crackling with potential.

Fire defines the moments of my life – the quick flash of a childhood crush, the slow heady burn of love in soul and body, the searing ache of loss that is death, the bright flush of pride in accomplishment, the easy simmer that is life in a warm busy home.

I can watch the leap of a multihued flame as I stoke the blazes of my life – the care and sharing, fear and joys that fuel the fire of love shared; the pride, effort and ambition that stoke the torch of my work; the hospitality, love and laughter that light my home and the extended family of friends who always return to it.

I believe that nothing stays the same once it has touched fire, but that fire is limited by what fuels it. What I feed the fire is reflected in the flames, and the fuels I burn – love, anger, fear, compassion – reflect in the life I lead. I choose the lights I show the world, the fires I burn for myself and others, the fuels I use to keep my flames alive.

I believe in the fires of life, the welcoming glow of a life lived well, and the long-lived embers from which other lives may spark.