“Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here”
I believe in life’s bonfires. I believe in standing around a huge pile of wood streaming red, orange, yellow and blue flames. I believe in avoiding the glowing pieces of ash that jump through the flame to disappear into the night skies. I believe in standing hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder singing, laughing, and talking. In the joining of generations spanning years, decades even, for just one night, passing stories from one life to the next. I believe in people sitting around the bonfire telling of legacies told to them while they sat around such a bonfire.
I believe that a bonfire is a place where people can sit together in fellowship and the spirit of love, talking about nothing and everything all at once. I believe that a bonfire creates a moment in time where nothing negative can break through the circle of light that the bonfire creates. That when the night is over and the fire gone, all that was secretly said is gone with the flames, never to be brought back out into the light unless it is in the light of another fire.
I believe a bonfire is a metaphor for life. Used carefully, it helps a person and warms others around you. Used carelessly, it not only burns those that you love and cherish, but it escapes from your grasp no matter how hard you try to hold on to it. Who knows what could happen after that? From something as high-tech as the most recent car or cell phone (which might last for a month or two) to something as primal as love, fear or hate, the bonfire applies to them all.
Bonfires are used for celebration too. We use it on the Fourth of July to keep warm while waiting to set off the flashes of chemicals and noise we call fireworks. They are used on December 31st to celebrate the birth of the New Year and the death of the old. It’s used in memorial services to take a body “back to where it came from”, hence the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. Do we not light candles, mini bonfires, to remember those who die traumatic and “premature” deaths such as those on September 11?
Even since the earliest days fire has been used as an essential way of life and communication. Smoke and fire signals were essential on communicating a person’s intentions across the lands. After all, fire was used to tell that the red-coats were coming.
So whether it’s commemorating a friend gone on to a better place, or celebrating the coming of something new, bonfires will always give us a place to join hands, open hearts, and just for a little while forget about the troubles of the world.