17 May 2012


 We circled ourselves near enough to feel and sense it. It built on itself as we fed it. We’d scavenged plenty of wood. We moved off a bit, but near to it’s warmth in the chill air.
“It’s good to have fire, I say.
“Yes,” Ciapha said.
I start, feed, listen to and watch fires, and never say a word in my enchantment. I once camped in the remnant of a hurricane. I started a fire ~ used birch bark ~ out of boredom and to unkoop myself from my one-man tent. The storm blew and poured rain three days. I fed it the entire time. I was alive with the fire in a hurricane’s remnants.
Ciapha was alive too. He’d emigrated from Liberia. He and his beloved escaped, fleeing gun barrels aimed for them. They fled for their lives. He gave me his story, his trust. He was safe. He loved to talk. I cannot recall his words. I listened. I heard the fire in him.
Ciapha spoke of his people, the Vai, and loved ones left behind. Ciapha lost paths, roads, and landmarks. Ciapha lost jungle, beach and ocean, geography and weather. Ciapha lost his village, city, country, nation, and continent. Ciapha lost training and profession. He lost his tribe. He lost natural customs for fellowship and living. Ciapha lost food and drink. Ciapha lost music. Ciapha lost his community of worship. Ciapha lost everything he knew. He knew he'd lost all he'd known. He talked, while understanding, as he talked, all he had never known or dreamed of, as if seeing in the fire, was now, here, at the fire. No, he did not lose what he'd known. They were stripped off and flung down by thugs.
I sensed his feelings of bewilderment and relief, sadness and hope, longing and peacefulness, in his voice. Ciapha spoke of family, tribes, politics, cultures, and spirit. I heard his determination.
I knew what we had in common. The Spirit we practiced together in our church. Ciapha found his way into the place, the community of worship, in Knoxville, TN., far from the Liberia he knew. We’d met in our community of our worship and spirit. We met in the fire too.
After a while Ciapha grew quiet.
“This is a good fire tonight”, he said.

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