Confidence, strength and beauty are born from ashes. I’m officially convinced.
I’ve had this sick fantasy, of fire and burning things, running through my mind the last few weeks. Seems like even my lesson planning for my classes has taken this theme recently. I had a student of mine make a coffin out of a shoebox for a special activity during Halloween last week to place written (grammatically correct) negative memories in it, intending to burn that thing to the ground.
Of course, I couldn’t burn it on school property due to pesky rules and stuff, but I still fantasized about it. My students would have rallied around me like the Man at the Burn and thrown some huge rave, wearing weird costumes while I lit the thing on fire. “Burn, burn, burn!” they would chant. I would maniacally dance around the flame, feeling the power of old things changing to ashes.
The activity was a hit, sans the fire. If you’re a high school teacher, you should do it.
Come to think of it, I actually burned something in effigy to my marriage once: my leg garter that I wore on my wedding day.
Why the hell I even kept that thing is beyond me. It’s not like I would ever wear it again. I think the gaudy lacy thing only cost me $5.00. It was still in my drawer even after I had decided to get a divorce, was about to move out of our beautiful home, and had pawned my $2500 wedding ring for $400 (I am ashamed to say my kids were with me at the pawn shop. This was definitely one of my finer Mom-of-the-Year moments). The twisted thing is that I used that money to buy a ticket to Burning Man, on purpose. I suppose it reflects my rebellious priorities at the time in some way.
As it turned out, going to Burning Man in the middle of the Black Rock Desert was one of the best decisions of my life.
Burning the Man
For those of you who don’t know what Burning Man is, I encourage you to Google it. Anytime I try to describe it, my attempts fall pathetically short of the experience and setting. You have to go at least once in your life to understand.
At the end of the week-long event, most things (including awesome art pieces) are burned. People gather around dressed in strange and scantily clad clothing, celebrating refining fire through burning a giant structure of a man. Music blares, people party, and a unique community is experienced. The next night, an enormous temple (and I mean huge) is also burned. During the days and nights leading up to this inferno, people are welcome to meditate and reflect within the temple, and many Burners place objects, messages and energies inside of it to be offered up for a renewed life the night it is arsoned.
When I learned of this ritual before I journeyed there, that leg garter was the first thing that popped into my mind. It symbolized my attempt at trying to cling to my old life that would never exist again. I guess I had kept it for reasons unknown to me until that moment.
I burned that sucker, along with a note releasing my anger and hurt, right to the ground. It was honestly one of the best spiritual experiences of my life.
The Temple before it’s burned to the ground.
That night, I felt forgiveness and acceptance teem over me. While it wasn’t a permanent feeling (because forgiveness often has to happen time and time again), it was an amazing step in the right direction. Out of those ashes (which I still have some in a small box), rose a new Emily. A stronger one. A less judgmental and accepting one.
And now, I have accepted my new life and beautiful things have come from it. The fact that I’m sitting here writing about the hope that I’ve found because of the things that have happened to me is amazing.
What are you holding on to that’s causing you to reflect too negatively about your life and your circumstance? I’m guessing you can think of something that symbolizes what you wish you could return to but can’t in this lifetime. Maybe it’s just a memory. Maybe it’s a picture or a gift given to you in the past by the One Who Has Broken Your Heart. Little things can trigger hurt: a song on the radio, a love letter from your early days of dating, an angry and spiteful email.
Release it. I say: “Burn that shit to the ground.” (Thank you, Patty, for this insightful quote.)
We are guaranteed one thing in this life: troubles. Jesus even said something to that effect. He didn’t say “if” you have troubles, he said “when” you have troubles. Crap happens. It just will.
I love the legend of The Phoenix. This mythological bird (in numerous cultures and religions) is said to live hundreds of years. It takes its own life eventually, burning itself with the power of the sun and rising into a new being, born from its own ashes. It takes its experiences and makes something brand new and beautiful out of it.
A rendition of The Phoenix, born from its own ashes.
I am The Phoenix. So are you. Take your old crap and burn it (literally or figuratively) and see what the Universe can do with your ashes. If you expect something beautiful to come out of it, it simply will.
But fire’s painful, people. It’s bright, it’s hot, and it can leave some scars. I mean, it’s fire. Duh. But it’s also comforting, warming and primal. There’s just something about fire that attracts people. Remember, too, that fire refines gold. It gets rid of the impurities and makes the metal more precious. It can do this for you if you let it happen. You are gold. You are precious. Let the Refining Fire do its job.
You are The Phoenix. You are precious.
So take up the banner of The Phoenix. Be renewed. Have hope. Believe that your circumstances will cause you to rise from the ashes as a new and more complete person.
You are The Phoenix. Burn that shit to the ground.
Blessings from the Pyro Bird,