It’s hard to say what my favourite part of this house is. I love the little window at the top of the landing which looks out over the garden and from which I witness all kinds of magic. I love the pantry adjoined to the kitchen, which makes me feel like I’ve stepped back in time to a time when we all knew how to pickle things and make jam and stash things away for the hungry months of winter. I love the old style door locks – the kind with a circular indentation into which you push your finger tip and push the lock across. I love everything about the garden, of course.
But when it comes to autumn and winter, there’s one thing I love above all else. The fireplace and wood burner. And by extension, the living room, which is a room that becomes infinitely more lovely and welcoming during the darker months.
Now that the nights are drawing in and the evenings have a chill to them, we’ve allowed ourselves to enjoy the first few fires of the season. If you’ve ever sat by a real wood fire, you know something of the comfort and magic they create.
The hearth has long been known as the heart of the home. In days gone by, the fireplace would have been commonly used not only to provide heat to the room, but also to cook and boil water, to gather and share stories and song.
If you sit quietly by a fire alone, the warmth hugging around you, you can notice how the movement of the flames draws you inwards, inviting and pulling you back into your own heart. It melts away all that is unimportant and reconnects you to what is. And when we gather around the fire with others, sharing stories, songs or simply sitting quietly, we can notice how we are drawn back into the collective heart where we can feel our shared presence and how, beneath the individuality of our lives, we are exquisitely bound together.
Over time, with the invention of different heating and cooking methods, the hearth lost its place and we gathered instead around the television. Now, we sit in isolation, huddled together with our various devices and the false sense of warmth and comfort they emit from their screens. Unlike the fire, these modern forms of entertainment, unless used mindfully and with caution, don’t draw us inwards, connecting us to our individual and collective heart, but instead draw us further outward and away from ourselves and one another. Instead of melting away what is unimportant and reconnecting us to what is, they often do the opposite. They impose their own agenda, flood us with information, and disconnect us from the wise voice at the centre of ourselves.
We don’t have a television, but we do enjoy watching things on the laptop sometimes. But given a choice, I would a thousand times prefer to sit and watch the dance and flicker of the flames and let myself fall into the silence that is infinitely more entertaining than anything I could find on a screen.
The silence that lives at the heart of everything. The silence from which all things emerge.
Love and courage,
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