Campfires, Oceans, and Friends - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Campfires, Oceans, and Friends

Friends! I have friends, lots of friends. (Over the years,) my circle of friends has been varied and sometimes complicated. I have friends who nurture me gently, I have friends who seem to want to boss me around, and I have friends who want me to continue feeling small. And now I have distanced myself from all of them.

Relationships have always been a mystery to me. I become very close to someone just to be swallowed up or lost. I haven’t figured out why this happens or how to walk away peacefully when I realize the relationship has changed. I want to continue a friendship but I don’t know how to do it. How do I remain a friend and yet continue to be my own person?

Today in meditation the picture of a campfire came to me. I looked at it and saw its beauty. The flames crackled and sparked, they danced and sang. It was beautiful and I was mesmerized. I remember owning a home with a fireplace. There would be a fire going and I would sit and stare at its magnificence and power. I love fire. I love to watch it as it does what it is supposed to do – burn. It has no prejudice, it has no favorites. It simply burns whatever it encounters. The flames turn whatever it is burning to ash. The fire does not destroy the material it is burning, it simply changes its appearance and its ability to function as it used to.

I have come to realize that a camp fire is a good thing. I must, however, enjoy it from a distance. Standing back, it has beauty, it has lessons to teach. It has a power that is necessary for this world to continue. It roasts my marshmallows. And it burns me if I get too close. The fire is painful when it touches my skin. The beauty of the flames is no longer visible to me. The power of the fire overwhelms me. The flames bring me to “ash” so that I look and act different than I used to. The fire does not destroy me, it simply changes my appearance. And when I back away, the burning and pain in my skin stops, the healing begins, and the beauty of the flames becomes visible again.

Does that mean I hate the fire? Does that mean I think the fire is a bad thing? Does that mean the fire should be destroyed or changed? No. What it means is that I must recognize where I am to stand in its presence. It means that I can see its magnificence and know where I fit into its life and where it fits into mine.

This morning, as I continued to sit in the silence, my thoughts went to the ocean. I could sit and look at the ocean for hours. It is gentle at times and rough at other times. Unlike the fire, I can enjoy it up close. As I get closer and closer to the shore line, I start to feel coolness in the breeze. I sense a cocoon of gentleness engulfing me. And as I step into the water, rather than burn and cause pain, it soothes me and fills me with a gentle reminder that I am one with it. I float, I swim, I laugh at its grandeur, and I feel peace. I feel a security in myself. It is intoxicating and I want to feel these gentle sensations forever.  I must, however, know when to leave the ocean; when to get out of the water. If I stay too long, it will turn me into something else…perhaps a prune.

Does that mean there is something wrong with the ocean? Does that mean I think the ocean and water are bad things? Does that mean the water should be destroyed or changed? No. What it means is that I must recognize where I am to stand in its presence. It means that I can see its magnificence and know where I fit into its life and where it fits into mine.

And so it is with my friends. Some are the wonderful campfires that bring me warmth and comfort, but burn me when I get too close. Some have been like the ocean which brings me peace and security but changes me into something else if I stay too long. I love them all. I want to keep them in my life. I am learning where I need to stand in order to be around my friends and still remain who I am.


About the author

Cheryl Gleghorn

Cheryl Gleghorn grew up in Milwaukee, WI where she attended St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church. The second of eight children, she started learning early on the power of love and compassion. Spirituality was her calling. Because of her affiliation with a marketing group while in her early twenties, she was introduced to the world of self-help and positive thinking … which led to the notion that there was probably a connection to God somewhere in all of that. In 1996, Cheryl found Science of Mind; A faith, a philosophy, and a way of life. This is the connection to God she was looking for. This movement was started by Dr Ernest Holmes in the early part of the twentieth century... In 2002, after several years of study, she became a licensed practitioner under the umbrella of United Church of Religious Science (later- Centers for Spiritual Living). Today she attends the Center for Spiritual Living in Bradenton, FL. Cheryl teaches this philosophy, does spiritual coaching, gives prayer support, leads meditation and facilitates visioning groups. Contact the author.

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