Where is ‘the breathing space’ in our lives?

Written by on November 9, 2010

The Spiritual Formation Retreats of the past two weekends, one in Olympia, WA and the other in Crestline, CA afforded me an opportunity to reflect and converse with a number of Emerging Journey participants around this simple poem, “Fire.”  It is often very simple images that can cause us to think or re-think where we find ourselves. Amidst all the stuff of life—demands and tasks, relationships and expectations, intentions and decisions, etc—we often need perspective. This poem provided many a window into their pace and their work and their attentiveness in life.


Simply allow this poem to stir your thoughts as you read it aloud 3 or 4 times …What jumps out?Where does this poem take you?

Fire What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space. Too much of a good thing, too many logs packed in too tight can douse the flames almost as surely as a pail of water.   So building fires requires attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood.   When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on logs, then we come to see how it is fuel, and the absence of fuel together,  that make fire possible.   We only need to lay a log lightly from time to time. A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way. by Judy Brown

Sam M Intrator and Megan Scribner, editors, Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003), 89.  Possible Questions for Further Exploration: • When did you learn to start a fire? What do you remember of these early lessons? • What in the world does this have to do with your life of faith? • “So building fires requires paying attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood”, what are some of the things you are being invited to pay attention to today? • Where is there” breathing space” in your life? in your family’s life? in your community’s life? in your team?


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