A blessing

Published on 22 Dec 2021
Wood fire

by Judith Irving

May the fire of your unique presence light up the world! These words formed part of our final blessing written while we walked the labyrinth together, when, at the end of our November Introduction to Spiritual Accompaniment course (ISA), we gave thanks to God for each other and for those we listen to and accompany in our lives, work and world.

Fires are important at St Beuno’s. As far as I know, there are now four working ones: in the Conference Room, Community Room, Common Room (presently used as the Community Dining Room) and in Rhewl Cottage (though I stand to be corrected about this; there may be more!).

For final evening course socials - especially in the darker months – we often light a fire in the Conference Room and gather around with a glass of wine or cup of tea. It’s a good way of celebrating, coming together, telling our stories before we all journey on the next day. Fires bring people together. They seem to help conversation; speaking and listening. They seem to nurture silence too. It’s fine to sit around a fire with friends and simply to rest into just being; to listen to the crackle of kindling and flames, to watch wood be soaked in fire and then settle to a kind of pulsing, moving energy of glowing red-orange embers. There’s something good as well about all taking care of a fire as the night goes on; each person throwing a log on now and then; and giving it a poke when it needs a bit of encouragement.

There’s our Easter vigil fire too; a special, sacred place and time as we come together, perhaps in the Courtyard here, or Rose Garden, when in the darkness we are reminded in a wonderfully tangible way of the profound reality of Christ’s light, through, with and between us. And recently we’ve created another fire place at the top of our Stations of the Cross path in the grounds, at the foot of the ‘15th Station’, the Resurrection. During the Full Spiritual Exercises, in the Easter morning of the Resurrection, we lit a dawn fire. Retreatants came in the chilly half-light, in silence, to hear the Good News as the first spark of flames flickered into life. Now this spot can be an occasional gathering place; an outdoor clearing of warmth under the trees and in the moonlight. Sometimes an owl calls affirmation!  

I love fires! I love lighting fires; and I love that the next day I can still smell the wood smoke on my clothes, on my skin, and in my hair. I love that they gather around them a circle of friends. There seems to me something beautiful and precious and good about this.

I’m remembering now, as I walked the labyrinth at the end of ISA, along with my companions, I could see, in the distance, through the trees – now shed of their leaves - and across the fields, a distant bonfire; a tiny beacon in the world. Quite mysterious and yet so ordinary too. May the fire of your unique presence light up the world!