My friend Sylvia lives in Colorado Springs. She and her husband Pat own a home that almost burned in the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire. As the fire reduced trees to ash only 30 feet away from the patio, the flames couldn’t get into the house because of how well it had been protected combined with the luck of the wind. I was shocked to learn the internal temperature of the home during these hours soared hundreds of degrees without anything ever catching flame.
Listening to these stories, I understood for the first time that one can either deny and fight the reality of a fire as it rips through you, or accept its reality and choose to move towards enlightenment and our giftedness to be creative, regenerative, wise, resourced, connected, storied, contemplative, enduring. Sylvia and Pat are people who choose to be open in the storms of life, they continue to teach me treasures about the day the fire comes.
Trynica is who we were gifted with first. She was pure sunshine and changed our lives the instant we met her. I remember holding her for the first time feeling the bliss and euphoria of the moment. This was short lived for me though, what was going through my mind the very next moment was “Time to get your shit together Steve, you just received a brand new, perfect baby girl and if you live well you will actually be the father she needs. But this is definitely not who you are right now.”
The first part of that thought has often felt empowering. The last thought has often felt like a storm, wreaking havoc on my confidence and relationships. Sometimes, fathering feels like a fire licking at my heals as I run from the truth of my own shadows and actions.
It wasn’t until the day Tryn was born that I realized for the first time the quality of my kids’ growth in life was in part influenced by my own personal healing. I mean to say, the day she was born was the day, a day, the fire came.
In general, I’m a highly relational person. I love people. No, I’m not an extrovert, don’t get me started. The bummer is I’m also pointedly judgmental. If I know you, I’ve judged you. I promise. And, I didn’t know this about myself until more recently. For this, I will humbly and readily apologize to all of you - I didn’t know what I was doing! Please forgive me.
My judgmental attitude towards mentors specifically created such a dry environment in my soul. I thought to myself “Look, there is no one who will show me proof of a good way to live - no one except me knows the good and right path to walk”. Recently the thought dawned on me as regrets pile up and hopes go down the drain: “Maybe life was harder than I thought and maybe I’m not as strong or wise as I thought”.
The fire caught in my spirit and licked up every dry thing in that cavernous cave. It felt like dying. I resisted it for a while - hoping to figure out how I was not to blame for the regrets or lost hopes (or for being such an ass to the mentors that had been given to me) - but the fire burned everything else up and I was all that was left standing.
The day the fire comes is the day I choose what to do with a part of myself I’ve been hoping to avoid forever.
In the Christian faith, we are taught to see storms in life as a blessing coming to us. I wrestle with this a lot.
However, without seeing the storms as blessings we will never be available to the healing they can offer. There are inspiring cancer patient stories of when the person is able to grow to accept the fire as a blessing. This person begins to write or speak to us about acceptance, loving the life you have today, living in this moment right here, ultimately of being grateful for the cancer having touched their lives.
The fire teaches us to let go of the past and let go of the future - the fire is burning in the now, be here in the storm now and get a look into the wisdom of the deep.
Storms are blessings. Blessings can be healings for the wounds we carry from the journey we’re on. The Blessing Giver truly loves us.
I learned this the day the fire came.