There’s this guy who invented fire. He takes the tools for making fire and goes up to the north, where there are some tribes shivering in the cold. He teaches them the art and the advantages of making fire. And the people become interested. They learn. And what do they know? Pretty soon they’re cooking, they’re using the fire for building. And before they had time to say thanks to the inventor, he had disappeared. He didn’t want any thanks; he just wanted people to benefit from his invention.
He goes to another tribe, and he attempts to interest them also in his new invention. But he ran into a snag there, see? The priests began to realize how popular the guy was becoming and how their own influence on the people was diminishing. So they decided to poison him. A suspicion arose among the people that it was the priests who had done it, so you know what the priests did?
They had a huge portrait made of the man. They put it on the main altar in the temple. They devised a liturgy by which the man would be honored, a ritual; and year after year, people came to pay homage to the great inventor and to the instruments for making fire. And the ritual was faithfully observed. But there was no fire. No fire. Ritual. Remembrance. Gratitude. Veneration. Yes. But no fire…
This story is my favorite from Anthony DeMello. Anthony was a Jesuit Priest who saw things as they are (not as prescribed by his own faith). I often remind myself of this story as I guide my children the best that I can.
This story’s true purpose is not whether dogma is good or bad (that is lazy, shallow thinking). The message here is that the fire maker’s purpose was to show that everyone can do this fire making stuff! He helped people learn and awaken to their true fire making potential.
And so it is with ALL OF US: We are the fire of the world. At our best, we help others awaken to their own potential. Today, I will work hard to bring my fire into the world. Today, I will be patient with my children and help them discover their own unique fire within. Today, I will listen better to their story and coach them where needed. Today, I will offer my hand to anyone who has forgotten that they, too, can spark a flame in this world.
You are the fire of life. Let’s go out there and fan the flames and help others awaken to their potential.