There is something about the fireplace, especially during Christmas time. The ambiance, smell (if you are burning wood), colors and dancing of the flames seems to provide a place for relaxation, contemplation and understanding. May be I am just silly, but when I become frustrated, sad, or overwhelmed being able to sit in front of the dancing flames does something. I recall as a child around the age of 3 or 4 sitting in front of the fireplace as a family, especially during Christmas time. We would laugh, sing, and pop popcorn. Some of you may not recall the fireplace popcorn equipment, but I do, it was like a box with some holes in it with a long handle. Dad would place some oil in the box along with the popcorn and move it over the fire. As the heat began to rise within the box, dad would shake it back and forth, and you could hear the corn begin to pop, seemingly bringing life to the dormant seeds placed in the box. These dormant seeds come to life dancing in the box, pop, pop, pop. They change from hard small and yellow, to fluffy, white, soft cotton like substance one can eat with ease and enjoy.
The fireplace gives a light that provides warmth and renewal. There is something about the fireplace that helps take away the frustrations, stresses of the day. There is something about the fireplace that brings people together. It is almost hypnotic, inviting you in to the light, allowing you to give up the items that are preoccupying your life, allowing you to reflect and release the trails of life. The warmth makes one feel comfortable, safe, and content in the moment.
Maybe there is an underlying principle in the strength of the flames. As the flames consumes the wood, gas, other combustible agent, just maybe on a subconscious level it begins to consume those trials, frustrations, sadness, and stresses of the day that seem so overwhelming, if only for the moments which you sit in front of the majestic dancing flames. Maybe it is rejuvenating because we allow it to take us to another place where our hurts, pains and concerns are no longer present.
Some call it romantic, bringing together two individuals where they feel that warmth, renewal, strength and emotion. Maybe there is something about this dancing flame as two people sit or lay by the fire, whether eating and/or drinking a beverage next to one another, that opens up the romantic emotions in their lives. The cares of the world, for those moments, seems to fall away, and it is just the two of them, looking into the eyes of each other, talking, laughing, smiling, enjoying that moment in time.
It is amazing to consider the strength of the virtual fireplace as well. While it does not provide the natural heat, there is something still majestic and warm from the fireplace. One can look up virtual fireplaces on “YouTube” with a number of options available. One may say it is fake, not real; yet, many people have viewed, liked and even downloaded them. Why? What is it about the fireplace, whether real or virtual, that brings people to the serenity of life? How does it provide that mystical escape many people long to find and seek out? Why is it so prevalent at Christmas time? What is the draw, power and mystery that surrounds it?
The Gospel of John gives imagery of light for Jesus, one of those passages is found in John 8:12. If light of the fireplace can provide such strength warmth and rejuvenation, Jesus can provide the same. How many times do we just sit down in front of the fireplace of Jesus, allowing him to move us from the pain, frustration, sadness and stresses of life to a new place of content, warmth, understanding, peace, and relaxation? He can provide healing, strength, and togetherness. As we consider Christmas this year, as we reflect upon the fireplace and dancing flames, let us remember Jesus is that and so much more. You see, the flame in the fireplace will eventually die away, yet Jesus will never die away, he is always light into the darkness, bringing hope, warmth, healing, strength, togetherness, understanding and peace, if we just allow ourselves to be drawn into his light, the dancing flames of Jesus.
By Thom Cahill