Last week, at Edwene Gaines’ retreat center in Valley Head, Alabama, I walked on fire. Literally.
It is always an extraordinary experience, and so not what I expected I would ever do. But I did it. There are innumerable lessons to be learned, but at the top of the list is a reminder that my expectation will be my experience.
After several hours of mindful contemplation and training, we were invited to walk across this sacred eight foot track of coals, that are about 1200 degrees. Medical science and the world say that is impossible, that I would get burned. But I did not. In fact, I did not feel much heat; instead, the fire was soft and welcoming, like talcum powder.
We in Southern California, with our experience of brush fires and Santa Ana winds, may have a perception that fire is frightening and destructive. But it can also be nurturing and cleansing.
I’ll bet you have walked on fire as well. It may not have been in Alabama, and there may not have been physical heat involved. But releasing an old regret or resentment, finally standing up and speaking your truth, or changing a belief that no longer serves you is every bit as important as crossing an actual fire.
Perhaps you are ready to do that again. But you haven’t quite taken the first step.
All these experiences require change. Might be a physical change, might be a change in the way we see ourselves, others and the world. But the process will be what we expect it to be. And as we walk, we focus on the manifestation of the dream—the finish line.
Remember the story of David and the Princess in the Bible? You might have heard it as David and Goliath. But if you go back in I Samuel and read it again, you find that David was totally focused on the princess (the goal, the prize), and gave very little mind to the fire (Goliath).
When we decide to go for our dream; when we decide this and no further; what do we focus on? When we live from the dream, rather than from the fire (the process of change and growth), the steps we take are so much softer, because we can stay consciously aware that we are walking with Spirit.
There will never be a better day than today to take the first step. As Garth Brooks reminds us in the song by the same name, “life is not tried, it is merely survived–if you’re standing outside the fire.”