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Learning from a campfire

campfire lake sunset friends

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Brian Schumacher - published on 05/15/23

For the longest time I couldn’t quite put my finger on why everyone seems so attracted to campfires. Then it hit me.

We were completely enraptured, our eyes all fixated on this one thing. One would have been justified in thinking we were hypnotized. We could have looked away, we just simply didn’t. So what commanded our attention? A simple campfire.

A few years ago I went with several friends to Great Basin National Park in Nevada. This is truly in the middle of nowhere. In fact, in order to get there from Salt Lake City (where we lived at the time) you must travel along U.S. 50 – commonly referred to as the “loneliest highway in America.” 

The day was spent hiking Mt. Wheeler – the tallest peak in the park – just so we could get a better view of the nothing that enveloped us. That night we set up camp and lit the fire. About 15 to 20 minutes into the evening one of my friends said, “Man, nothing commands your attention like a campfire.” Another quickly chimed in: “That is so true” and then another: “If we were at home we’d be watching TV, with our phones out, scrolling.” We all laughed. 

I think about that fire often. I grew up camping in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, and campfires were not only a mainstay but even the main attraction, and, once again, everyone’s eyes were invariably drawn to the flames. For the longest time I couldn’t quite put my finger on why everyone seems so attracted to campfires. Then it hit me — simply put, it’s delight. 

Earlier I said that one would be justified if they thought we were hypnotized. Justified, yes, correct? No. At no point were we ever out of control of our faculties; we could have easily looked away or gotten up and left. However, none of us did that. There is something about the natural world working in a natural way that encourages contemplation. Maybe there’s not even a specific thing on your mind, but you find yourself pulled into the natural world and completely charmed by it. That’s what I mean by contemplation, there is a certain harmony you feel with creation: You’re not in action but neither are you vegetative, you’re not deep in thought but neither are you thoughtless — it’s simply the delight of harmony. 

Because God made us in creation and ordained us to be stewards over it, it make sense that we would find an edifying delight in natural things. All we have to do is make ourselves available to receive it.
~

This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

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The Human Being Fully Alive
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