Where There Are No Campfires.
Going for the Love of God to the Regions Beyond.
Jan and I worship with Pima Indians on a reservation near our home in Mesa, Arizona. One Sunday the pastor mentioned that the tribe honors one man as “the Firestarter.” The office of “Firestarter” is handed down over many generations. That is so interesting to me. Perhaps that is why I thought of this story of going for the love of God to the regions beyond.
Going Where There Are No Campfires
My father woke me just past midnight, making a sign that I should not wake the others. He handed me my shoes. The fire burned low and cast a flickering light on the sleeping faces of my family and friends.
Away we walked, father and I, until we were climbing through the pines. Now we could look back on the soft glow of our campfire and a hundred more within walking distance of our own. My father was taking me up to the ridge. He had seen me talking with my friends the day before, pointing toward this hill.
Now, ascending toward the top, my father spoke. “You want to go where there are no campfires. Some will try to hinder you, because there are plenty of needs close to home. They have forgotten how our own fires got started. But here we are, at the crest.” He sat down and motioned for me to do the same. We looked down to see below the opposite side of the ridge—which is to say we could see nothing.
I waited for my eyes to adjust, but the darkness seemed to be a thing alive, a pot of paint, an ocean of ink. How long we looked, I do not know.
“They are in darkness, as we once were,” my father said. “Firestarters now forgotten came to where we wandered. It will be the same someday for these.” “Can they come to us and join our warmth and light?” I asked. “They are welcome, of course,” he replied. “But that is not the way it happens. Firestarters must lay down their lives to bring it to them. There must be a laying on of hands, a going forth, a great commission, a leaving of all that is familiar.”
Somewhere below, I could hear a sound that I cannot describe, but if the sorrow of the lost could be heard from a long way off, this is what it sounded like. I felt a grief inside too deep for words.
“Son, hold out your hand and take this flint. An old man gave it to me a long time ago. Go back and wake your friends,” my father said, his words making the hair on my neck stand up. “You are sons of the firestarters. God will go with you.”
Blincoe: I recently sat for an interview with Matthew Ellison of Missio Nexus. It is 33 minutes long. You can listen to it here.