Like a Moth to a Flame

By Keith Fisher

Have you ever sat down next to an open fire and watched the flames dance an enchanting ballet of chaotic bliss? There is something fascinating, nay, hypnotizing about staring into the flames.
Fire was a tool used by our ancestors to tame their environment. It provides warmth against the winter, light against darkness, and perhaps the most important; It turns raw duck into roast duck. No matter what the use, there is something to be said about mankind’s undying love affair with fire.

In the world of outdoors cooking today, mankind has turned to alternate fuel sources. We use fast lighting, long lasting charcoal briquettes with our Dutch oven and in many cases, we have abandoned charcoal for natural gas. Not many of us can say we use campfire coals, like our ancestors did.

It’s okay though, in a world of cutting edge technology, and neighbors living with in spitting distance, some communities have outlawed the use of fire in backyards. With the smoke, and mess of an open fire, It’s no wonder we have learned to pull a sandwich from the freezer, and nuke it in the microwave. Yet, there is that romance . . .

In an open fire we can find solace. We gaze at the flames, and coals, and the variation of color. From white, yellow, red, blue, to black. All the colors of the rainbow prance on display before our eyes. The kids say, if you look close you will see the pyre fairies, frolicking in the ashes.

About three years ago, in an effort to eliminate the chemically laced fumes from charcoal briquettes, I tried using natural lump charcoal with my Dutch ovens. I loved it. I sat downwind from the cooking table, and with the exception of a nice mesquite aroma, there was no effect at all. I didn’t experience the headaches and other problems I associated with the briquettes.

Soon, I started using only lump charcoal and quickly discovered that when you separate coals, unless there is a breeze, the fire goes out. There are many lessons we can learn form this, but I noticed that if the charcoal pieces were allowed to mingle with each other, they would burn bright and completely, even without a breeze.

I’ve noticed this same thing happen in a natural wood fire. It takes a large handful of kindling to start the blaze, and as long as you continue to add fuel, the fire quickly grows into an inferno. However, if you take one stick away from the mass, even though it was engulfed in flame, it quickly burns out without the support of the source.

If you put it back in the fire, however, it takes flame again, and is as if it had never been extinguished.

It’s easy for us, to compare ourselves to the stick, and think of our spiritual lives. Once we completely catch fire, we think we can go it alone. We tell ourselves we don’t need others. They only get in the way. We can be just as close to God in the mountains as in church.

After a while, we discover our flame is going out. Hopefully, this discovery is made before we forget we were once part of a great pyre of light producing flame. We can, however, return. If we are put back with our fellow sticks, we can produce wonderful warmth and beneficial light for all to see.

Be a friend, help your fellow man. We all struggle to keep our flame burning bright. Together we can help each other to fulfill our goals and the destiny God has planned for us.

A while ago, while camping in a parking lot, I discovered something, I’m sure many have known before. I had to sit up late and wait for my oak wood campfire to burn down enough, that I could go to bed without worrying about it. I kept beating the coals from the logs and before long, found a large pile of briquette sized coals glowing brightly. Perfect to cooking with Dutch ovens. It was too late to use them however, but they didn’t burn out quickly.

Using the analogy above, we can see that if we stay the course and help others, we can be part of an even larger purpose. We can be far more than we ever intended to be. Rather than go out as a single piece of unused, freshly lit, charcoal. Our fire is unquenchable because it burns from within.

Return to the Neighborhood.


Nichole Giles said...

Good analogy, Keith.

A while back, my husband and I had a short lesson about how charcoal is made in Haiti. Interesting thing to learn.

I'm going to have to try using natural charcoal next time I cook Dutch oven.


Keith Fisher said...

Thanks for your comments Nichole. Yeah I think I'll write a blog in th futer about it. I'm sure it would surprise some folks.