That word you don’t want to yell in a crowded theatre! Danger aside, I think it’s our feeling that we can control fire that makes it so compelling to us humans. That, and how it warms us, and casts light into dark places, and is so colorful and active. I’m a closet pyromaniac, can you tell?
Fire is so mysterious and useful, but what about the relationship building aspect? I will tell you what I have learned. People will start talking about very interesting, personal things when sitting around a cozy fire. Maybe it’s because they know others won’t be looking at them when there’s a fire to look at. Staring at a fire also seems to hold space – talk gets interspersed with times of thought. It’s perfectly okay to just think for a while when sitting around a fire. If it’s night, it’s even safe to cry a bit if you need to and the fire will cover for you.
I have sat around countless campfires with family and friends and it has become a special activity for me. I think the daughters would agree, as I see hints in their lives as adults. Prominent in Julia’s yard is the fire circle set up by her uncle for her wedding celebration (the one where it rained and made fire impossible). Prominent in Esther’s yard is her Solo stove that we sit around most every time I visit.
And in my own practice of relationship building, I also have a Solo stove that serves as a gathering place. You’ve heard “where there’s smoke, there is fire” but the switch around is also true. “Where there is fire, there is smoke” and it’s so annoying when it keeps blowing in your face, following you around as the wind changes direction. My Solo stove is pretty helpful at keeping the smoke down. I love it, and sometimes sit outside in the evening, all alone, watching wood burn, and thinking. It’s that much better when I can get others to join me.
Build a fire, and they will come. Try it.