It had been warm for February, but the night brought with it a chill that seemed perfectly suited for a cozy campfire. The sky was clear of clouds and we were far enough from the city with all its extraneous light to be able to see not only the constellations, but also all the tiny little stars that so often go unnoticed. I am not well versed on the constellations, but I do have my favorites. There was the Big Dipper near the horizon. And almost overhead was Orion's Belt. I have always thought his bow looks more like the tail of a scorpion and his belt, the scorpion's body. But I am not the namer of constellations and I accept my place in the galaxy.
As I looked to the sky, I marveled at the vastness of the universe and at the magnificence of its (and my) Creator. I suddenly felt very, very small. And my troubles felt even smaller. This was good for my soul and it had been a long time in coming. I needed this more than I had realized.
The fire ring was simply stones gathered and arranged in a circle. It had seen many fires before this one. Earlier I had carefully shoveled out the old ashes, which had been compacted by past rains. I had gathered the wood, mostly fallen cedar and mesquite, but also a few pieces of live oak. The pieces were stacked neatly a short distance from the fire.
I had arranged the starting pieces. First kindling that surrounded a large clump of "fire starter" that I had collected from the lint trap of my clothes drier. Over top of that, I had placed progressively larger pieces. When I lit the lint, it burned quickly and I remember wondering if I would need to find the charcoal starter fluid. But I was in luck and the kindling caught. The flames slowly engulfed the rest of the wood. Yes, this campfire was well planned and executed. And now here I sat in the fire's glow, enjoying the fruits of my labor of love.
The night was quiet except for the popping and crackling of the campfire and the occasional yapping of coyotes. It was a good campfire and now it had been burning long enough to produce the beautiful glowing coals in its center. My eyes were focused on them. I watched the colors and shapes slowly changing, mesmerized in an almost trance-like meditation. My thoughts wondered freely from one thing to another. But mostly I thought of nothing at all. Beautiful peace.
The fire's glow lit up the faces of friends gathered around. Occasionally, we would talk about the events of the day or share stories from long ago. And at times the cool night air would be filled with laughter. At other times, we would just sit silently, sharing the moment and enjoying the magic. Yes, there is something very special about a campfire. And it's even better when shared.
Just then a figure stepped out of the darkness. Was it another friend coming to join us perhaps? That would be wonderful. The more, the merrier. But this new person did not take a seat. Instead, they just stood there on the edge of the darkness. My eyes strained to see if I could recognize a familiar face. Who was this new arrival?
And then I heard it. There was no mistaking the distinctive sound of a stream of water landing on the hot coals below. The coals sizzled and sputtered and a small cloud of steam rose up. In my shock and disbelief, it took me a moment to realize what was happening. Could it be? Yes! Someone was peeing on my campfire!
But why would someone do such a thing? Have I offended you in some way? Have you never known the joy of a campfire of your own? Or shared in the warmth of another's fire? Has life been cruel or love unkind? Was your campfire of hope extinguished by another? The questions raced through my mind. But then, just as quickly as they arrived, they were gone.
I picked up another stick of wood from the stack and used it to stir the coals. Then I threw it on the fire and watched it blaze up. And I knew that all was well. For mere urine is no match for a well built campfire.