I have been frozen in ice for the last few months. I allowed whispers of what people were saying about me to reach my ears and penetrate my soul. I ceased to live, believing that to avoid criticism, I would simply do nothing.
I avoided my ADF clergy preliminary work. I stopped doing my devotions. I allowed a single statement I heard secondhand to change me, and to take away whatever I had achieved. I continued only with work and the gym (the latter only to keep up with Lugaid in Fitocracy points) but I felt shame instead of pride each time I achieved a new PR. I used extra hours at work as an excuse to continue doing nothing, and spent my days off mindlessly looking at the internet because I was too frightened to blog, or write new prayers and liturgy, or sing, or do anything that would have me labelled badly again.
And so I withered. I argued about the existence of the gods, mostly to mask that I was afraid that I was not good enough for them. I had glimpses of what could be, again, at our Grove’s Druid Moon Rites, and I cried so much because I didn’t know how to embrace it, for I was too afraid. Many of my evenings were spent watching movies, but I doubt I could tell you the content of most of them.
A friend said to me that living in a good relationship with the Gods was like eating Primally — you can live without it, but you’ll thrive with it. And I realised that I was very, very tired of all of this.
My last flametending shift was Imbolc Eve, so some Grove Members came over for a Brighid devotional night, where we read from her Lives and shared other Brigidine things. It was absolutely wonderful for a number of reasons. But I had expected that the joy that I felt would be transitory, something that was just a flicker, like at the aforementioned Druid Moon rites, but no, it had stayed in my heart, and I had to find a way to keep it.
I read Oak Leaves the next day, and there was an article about the history of the Sacred Fire and our relation to it – how fire was acquired by our Ancestors, and the nature of the Fire Goddess herself, and her blessings on the hearth. And this was it, as simple and straightforward as it needed to be. How are the fires in our hearts kindled? Either as a need-fire (through hard work by the hands) or by divine inspiration (lightning, etc.). How do we maintain those fires? By the care and feeding of the flame itself, for once we stop that the flame will go out, and we can no longer reach the gods from our hearts. To rekindle that flame is always difficult.
So then I was faced with a challenge, to keep my heart-fire lit and nurtured, in the face of all of the negative thoughts I had collected over the last few months. I started my devotions again. I sang. I felt joy in more than a fleeting form. And I wanted to share this divine experience because it made me so happy.
I know that whatever I do, someone will always have something to say. Why would it be different now? What I pray for, however, is that I can focus on my hearthfire and my heart-fire, and keep them burning brightly so that I can never find myself in darkness again.