Europe by train: Day 4. Caussade, France.
It is my last day in the chateau. I’ve been padding around in my wool socks and sweatpants all afternoon, drinking coffee, perched in front of my computer doing whatever it is that it takes me all day to do.
On most days emails overrun my inbox. I get fifty by morning, at least, that require answering. A few of them are normally soul-bearing things, notes from people who are delicately balanced on the edge of their dreams and searching desperately for reassurance.
I wish I could respond to these emails with a confirmation that it will all be okay. I wish I could say, just do it, it will work out. But I can’t say that. I don’t know their circumstances and, besides, there are no guarantees.
I’m folded into a chair at the dining table. It is lovely in this room, so open. Thick wooden beams form rafters in the ceiling. I take a break from composing emails to read The Invitation by the storyteller Oriah Mountain Dreamer, which has popped up in my newsfeed. I love this poem, this ode to life. It begins with these lines:
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
I read the poem once and then I read it again. Of all its beautiful stanzas this one stands out to me today:
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
And I realize that this is what I want to express in my emails: the importance of embracing the flame of possibility instead of turning your back on it. I want to say: If the risk of climbing into the fire is worth more to you than the comfort of lingering where it cannot touch you, come on in.
And when you decide to step inside the fire do not shrink back.
Do not shrink back even though the flames are crawling up your pant legs.
Do not shrink back though you are afraid that you might catch fire.
Do not shrink back although you fear that the heat and intensity of the flames will transform you into something unrecognizable.
Because that is exactly the point.
A heavy mist has rolled in over these hills in the French countryside and it looks like it will stay all day. Soon, I will change my clothes and go out for a run. Brian is in the kitchen making pizza. Hannah and Lee are on the couch doing work for their web design business. A fire is roaring in the wood stove.
I send my email, close my laptop, and shoot a silent prayer of gratitude up towards the sky. It’s a message of thanks for the irresistible flames that danced like a beckoning finger, calling me to its center: Come here, come here.
Tomorrow I will write from Paris.