Among the simplest of spiritual pleasures
is the mystical light and warmth
of a fireside evening around the hearth.

It’s hard to say just why.  Could be the magical dance
of choreographed flames, or perhaps some primal hunger
to understand so basic an element as fire.

Or closer:  a fire means we’re home from wherever
and that there is a safe place and sure shelter
from a world much colder beyond our walls.

A fire says in visual cadence:  “Sit down.  Take a load off.
Enjoy me this brief time we have.  Slow yourself.   Watch me.
I’ll burn as I will and at my own pace.   You do the same.”

Time was there a science to the whole thing.
Kindling wood.   Matches.   Axes and wedges.   Logs split
and seasoned stacked in autumn’s windy anticipation.

Twigs and logs and tucks of old newspapers
braced across and under the andirons
waiting for the incendiary strike of the match,

and then the quick aroma of smoke gathering in puffs
waiting for the uplift of draft and chimney to pull it away,
as pops and snaps and crackles sang out in rising flames.

Now it can all be done with no odor, no soot, nothing to crackle.
It’s more antiseptic, more lazy, less demanding.
All it takes is fireside desire and the click of a remote device.

But smoky or not the mystical power does not change.
It brings the soul home and feeds warmth to the heart.
Simple spiritual pleasure delivered and received.