It was early morning, and too dark to see a clock, so I don't know the time by men's counting. But it was before the rooster crowed, so maybe 3 or 4.
The fire had burned itself into a thick layer of ash, with just a few sparks left. I had always before awakened before the fire got this low, when embers still glow red from the fire alive within them.
As before, my hand reached for kindling to stoke the fire. Upon the smaller wood I placed a larger log so my sleep would be longer un-interrupted.
At the click of a lighter, the gasses gathering above the ashes burst into flame, and I could get back under warm blankets.
But there was no sleep, because thick, acrid air alerted me through my senses that something was amiss. This hadn't happened before, not this season. The beam of my flashlight caught a cloud of smoke rising in the yurt. The smoldering log bellowed smoke, filling my sleeping space with particles toxic to my lungs.
The door of the free-standing steel fireplace was shut closed and the door flap of the yurt flung open. Crisp winter air replaced the heavy, burning air in my lungs and the tent. Life-affirming breaths cleared out the deadly invasion of the smoke of a dying fire.
My head was clearing too, under the bright starry sky, and I realized that I'd tried to re-start the fire on a bed of flickering ashes, not the burning embers I was familiar with and expecting. My actions had been guided by automated habit, based on past experience, not by seeing the actual in front of me.
The primary lesson and insight I gain from this episode is to put more awareness into the actual of the moment, and act in the flow from there. That is presence. That is being with what I do, which is one of the most spiritual experiences I can have and a step towards union.
Secondary insights can be gained by looking more deeply and with a feeling for metaphors. Surely the old ways of our world are dying, like the layer of ash which sputtered its last sparks. Being present is strong medicine and preventative for both the dying world and the smoldering wood. I re-built the fire consciously, and then it burned brightly and held back the dropping cold with life-affirming warmth. The expanding warmth of one consciousness in human awareness is also needed by the dying world. I would not choose to save the systems and values of the old world, but re-create the new world consciously upon the ashes like the re-built fire.