Your Place in the Circle

1.3 million years ago and not far from here, the earth changed its shape.

Slowly a pocket of fire rose up from the earth’s molten core and began to swell like a great seed. The fire pushed up towards the crust as if seeking to blossom towards the sun. Magma pressed against the mantle until it burst and collapsed into a molten pool eighteen miles wide. The rim of the pool held the fire within a bowl of earth, a cauldron. Gradually, the fire cooled and the caldera was formed.

As the lava cooled, water began to flow through the black rocks creating clear springs, rivers and streams, lakes and ponds. Weather, caught by the rim, swirled within the cauldron’s skyscape wearing rocks down into fertile soil. Wind carried seeds for prairie grasses, lupines, yarrow and other low-growing plants which grew into tapestries on the plains. Cattails and marsh grasses sprouted near the waters. Birds which had inhabited the land before the caldera returned, and more birds came. They carried the seeds that beget a forest of trees with little tolerance for shade, Lodge Pole Pines yearning skyward with such insistence they scarcely branch.

Large and small animals...predators and prey...lightning, fires...
The forest burning to the ground. Seed pods exploding in the flames. The land making and remaking itself with fire.

Humans came, hungry for stories. At night we gathered around fires to feed ourselves. We gathered under unobscured stars and spoke of gods and how they made us alongside our siblings: trees, grasses, animals, fish and birds.
Our stories told us:
We belong to the earth and a teaming web of life.
We were created and placed here by divinity.
We belong to the divine.

Hundreds of thousands of years passed and we became civilized. We lived inside for longer and longer periods of time. We saw less sky, touched less grass, and felt less sun. We seldom gathered around fires but we still had stories. For a period of time, the one I was born into, many of us gathered around the TV as if it were our only fire. TV told us many kinds of stories, but there was one consistent refrain, retold roughly every 10 minutes. The story of advertising insisted:
You need something you do not have.
You do not have enough.
You are not enough.

The story of our divine origin was displaced by a story of insufficiency.

Decades later, we carry a potent storyteller in our pockets and purses. We've dedicated a large portion of our attention to it. Profiteers consciously harvest our attention like a crop. The cell phone speaks like a small, stingy god: You need, you’re not enough, you lack. What else does it have to say? There are words of courage and kindness, yes, but also others. Some stories hold their breath and suck in their cheeks, posturing, episodes broadcast continually from Channel Me. There are legions of delimiting stories, centered around a small self and lacking the word we. Another series echos what we already think we know, denying us the pleasure of curiosity and the intimacy of not-knowing. Many stories sound sirens of our demise, emphasizing colossal troubles without reminding us we are large enough to face them. 

We are large enough.
We have enough.
We are enough.
.

Return to the caldera to remember our true shape and size. Return to see each other as the stars, unobscured. Return to listen and be heard. Let us gather around an actual fire again, face-to-illuminated-face, and retell these truths: 
We belong to the earth and to each other.
We belong to the divine.
We are related to everything wild and alive.

There is a place for you in the circle, a place for each of us. Let us recall our divine origins. Let us return to the circle together as true storytellers, willing to remake ourselves with fire.

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