I sit with my eight-year-old son on the floor in front of our fireplace. The room is dark and cold, and we sit close in to a fire made of of oak limbs. Molten light runnels through old tree bark, and we watch as patches of wood skin blister and peel.
I am middle-aged and meditative, thinking of the years represented in the wood--how long it took to grow, how fast it burns. My son and I sit together thinking apart. I ask him what he sees as he watches. He says "fire, burning." I ask him if thinks about time or the growth rings of the burning tree representing time. "No," he replies. "But that's cool." He smiles and says again, "I see fire, burning."
The heat blasts out at our faces, dipped close in together. My eyes burn like the embers formed from dripping fire. My son's face exudes love and good cheer; no heaviness haunts his light or interrupts the tips of fire that flow from the logs of his fresh life.
I am always tempted toward melancholy, but tonight, enveloped in my son's blazing joy, I smile into the heat of consuming time that marks our lives as we fly off into space with the sparks and smoke. Fire, burning.