Updated: Jan 20, 2021
From our low seat beside the fire
Where we have dozed and dreamed and watched the glow
Or raked the ashes, stopping so
We scarcely saw the sun or rain
Above, or looked much higher
Than this same quiet red or burned-out fire.
Tonight we heard a call...
A flame within us
- Charlotte Mew, The Call
I've found it difficult to come up with words and sentiments to share lately. I am telling myself this is because the ongoing work on my website and business has been so all-consuming… but I think there’s also something in there about just being a little worn out from the year.
I thought recently about how we are now in the embers of the year, November / December: the light is fading and the warmth being drawn out, and things are winding down in some ways. And I think that image of a faintly glowing fire is apt for the way my heart and being are feeling as well.
There are ways in which this year has lit a real fire in my life: making the move to being self-employed, following my dream of building a yoga and creativity business, getting engaged! And, of course, there have been times of extreme low burn - things in my own and my family’s and friends’ lives which have left me feeling that the light might almost have gone completely out.
But it hasn’t, has it?
Something’s still in there, burning away.
I feel it most at the moment in stillness, quietness. I feel it now as I’m writing these words to you. Something that has weathered the storms of all the last months of change, chaos, unrest. The amount of light and heat I’m able to cast around me might not always be the same, but this brightness at the base of it seems steady.
Charlotte Mew’s beautiful poem, 'The Call', was the first poem I read during my classes in the Studio at Calderstones Mansion House - back in October 2019, when in-person yoga was still a thing...! A lot has happened between then and now - but as I re-read the poem, it seems there is much that resonates with all we’ve experienced this year. The world is still very much 'dark and hedged about / with mystery and enmity and doubt'. I love that word 'hedged' - almost as if we were in a maze, and could come up against any one of these feelings at any moment.
It’s hard to tell whether 2020 will be looked back at as ‘a bright or a dark’ time - as I’ve said, it seems to be a big burning ball of both to me... But either way, something has shifted in all of our lives - 'Unbarred, flung wide the door / Which will not shut again' - and I for one feel changed irreversibly by the experiences of it.
One thing’s for sure - when the call to adventure comes, we have two choices: to stay as we are, ‘dozing by the fire’ - a comfortable place, it’s true - or to answer it. To step out, into the cold air, and make our new path through the world. May all of our paths through the coming year be more easeful, more joyful, and more connected.
From our low seat beside the fire Where we have dozed and dreamed and watched the glow Or raked the ashes, stopping so We scarcely saw the sun or rain Above, or looked much higher Than this same quiet red or burned-out fire. Tonight we heard a call, A rattle on the window pane, A voice on the sharp air, And felt a breath stirring our hair, A flame within us: Something swift and tall Swept in and out and that was all. Was it a bright or a dark angel? Who can know? It left no mark upon the snow, But suddenly it snapped the chain Unbarred, flung wide the door Which will not shut again; And so we cannot sit here any more. We must arise and go: The world is cold without And dark and hedged about With mystery and enmity and doubt, But we must go Though yet we do not know Who called, or what marks we shall leave upon the snow.
Charlotte Mew (1869-1928)