In the last few days I have been paying a lot of attention to fire. Literally, in the home that I’m staying in where 12 of us are meeting in relation to The Circle Way. There is a corner fire place in which I’ve placed logs periodically to keep the flame present in our day. When the flame has burned to mere embers, I’ve stuck my face near the fire to blow deep breaths and watch orange embers come back to spontaneous blue, yellow, and white flame. I love fires. They remain, an event to me. A treat.

I’ve also been paying attention to the image of fire keeping, one of the metaphors the 12 of us have invoked together. You see, we are in the complex work of shifting a body of work, Circle, from founders, Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea of PeerSpirit, to a broader network of practitioners, to release the form and practice into another level of scale and service in the world. Whew! It’s a long sentence, but simple in concept.

I woke up remembering this poem by Judy Sorum Brown, an American poet, writer, and change leader who was part of creating the Society for Organizational Learning. It’s a poem I’ve used many times before, but not recently. It’s a solid reminder for any of us working literally and figuratively with fire.


FIRE ~ Judy Brown

What makes a fire burn
is 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
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.

A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

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