What makes a fire burn
is the 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 would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood….
This feels like beautiful advice. It’s an invitation to pause and to find the spaces in our life that allow spirit to shine through. So, what stops us? What makes it so difficult? When we’re in a rush and feeling stressed, the hardest thing in the world is to stop. You probably know what it’s like. If you try to stop, everything in your body and your mind is still charging forward. There’s a huge, anxious, restless drive to check things off the list and tie up all loose ends. It’s really physically uncomfortable to pause!
We each have an existential hum of fear that is in the background of our daily life. We have a perception of our temporariness, that around the corner we face inevitable loss. We will lose our own bodies and minds, we will lose others who we love. This apprehension keeps us focused on defending against loss, trying to predict loss, trying in some way trying to occupy ourselves so we don’t have to face the rawness.
Our fear keeps us busily filling in the space between the logs. This trance of more to do prevents us from finding the breathing space; it keeps us from the blessings of sacred presence. When we see this, something deep within us longs to stop. This wisdom guides us to pause and touch the moment; to listen to the wind, to feel the one who is hugging us, to see the light in a dear one’s eyes. This wisdom brings us to the simplicity of the inflow and outflow of the breath. It calls to us lovingly: “Stop and come home. Find, in the space between the logs, the light that is your source.”
Adapted from my book Radical Acceptance (2003)
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