More thoughts on the fire

The fires which ripped through the Cape Peninsular over the last week have largely been brought under control. There is still one fire burning at Cape Point, but for the most part the drama and hysteria of the last week is over.

The cost has been significant for some. This week will long be remembered.

Comments from two friends on my last blog post (found here) have enlarged the spiritual metaphor for me. In that post I wrote: ‘It makes me wonder though if the human psyche isn’t a bit like the Cape fynbos. Maybe we need the occasional devastation to clear out the dross and to allow for new growth.’

One friend commented on her identification as she watches her life go up in flames at the moment. A second friend asked a practical question about the use of controlled fires on the Mountain. I don’t know the real world answer to that question, but it got me thinking about the spiritual metaphor. What is the spiritual/psychological equivalent of a controlled burn?

I think in my own life it is the combination of going on retreat and receiving spiritual direction. Not that either of those things is necessarily the equivalent of a fire experience. But that occasionally things get triggered which can be dealt with in a particular way in those spaces which is a bit like a controlled burn.

I have never been in therapy, but I imagine that it too can provide a similar kind of space.

Controlled fires provide the necessary environmental regeneration without the terrible threat to livelihood and property. It is a risky strategy, but in the long term probably less destructive.

Where are the spaces in your life where the necessary fire can burn without becoming a runaway disaster?

3 thoughts on “More thoughts on the fire

  1. The fires raging through the Cape Fynbos are a natural part of the ecosystem here as long as I have lived in the Cape which is forever. Periodic fires are a natural necessity although incredibly frightening as I remembered as a child where our house was across the road from a vast area of fynbos wetland which dried up in summer, and the fires spread quickly over large tracts threatening our home. The fires of 2000 on the mountain were frightening, as I remember watching from my home at night; but minimal damage and no homes were destroyed as I seem to remember. This fire has been far worse with homes destroyed. The 350-year colonization and urbanization of the Cape with the consequent introduction of non-native tree species, especially pine plantations on the mountain side; has meant that fynbos which burns hot but quickly now spreads to human engineered forests which burn for much longer, given the larger fuel reserves, and spead over the mountain passes threatening mountain side communities. Fire-breaks are an absolute necessity, but the inaccessibility limited the ability for fire-fighters to deal with the fires that spread out in multiple directions simultaneously. The tragic loss of peoples homes and possessions by this fire is a sad reminder of how much of this world is really under our control. My heart extends to those that suffered loss and the courageous fire-fighters who risked their lives to bring the fire under control. The fynbos will regenerate like a phoenix from the ashes of destruction; poignant reminder that out of the depths of sorrow and despair ‘Resurrection will come!’

  2. I like John’s comment very much.

    As for your question, I believe it’s important for me to burn away some of the burdens of the past ~ old wounds, grudges, shame and self-loathing. To see myself through God’s eyes, through the eyes of those who truly love me, is to have that sacred, necessary fire burn. Fire reminds me that I am not wholly in control, it reminds me of the necessity of surrender.

  3. Pingback: Spring Fires | Orientikate*

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