I had one of the most vivid dreams of my life recently. The image was of a boy child (probably 5-10 years old) peering through a slightly cracked bedroom door. Behind the boy was a bonfire, the light from which softly illuminated the bedroom. Inside the bedroom was the boy's father, fast asleep on the bed and blissfully unaware of his disappointed son, whose only desire at that moment was his father's attention. The scene was stark--lots of grays, dark oranges and reds, and, of course, black.
When I awoke from my dream, I immediately felt the conviction of a father who spends far too little time with his children. I recognized myself as someone who may hold the title "dad," but who is rarely called "daddy." I was stonewashed by an overwhelming sense of detachment, guilt, and regret. Yes, folks, like many fathers in our society today, I often give more time to others than I do to those closest and dearest to me.
Now, I'm no oneirocritic (i.e., one who interprets dreams), but everything in the dream made immediate sense to me except the bonfire. Why was there a bonfire inside of the house? I mean, why not a hall light or a flashlight or some other sort of indoor illumination? Why fire?
I believe the answer has to do with Levi, my youngest son (5 years old). You see, Levi has been asking...no, harassing Beth (my wife) and I to build a bonfire in the backyard for several months now. At our old house, we had a fire ring and our family would occasionally build an evening bonfire and sit around it talking, laughing, and building memories. However, since moving this summer, our fires have gone dormant. Sensing this decline in family time but not knowing how to verbalize it, Levi instinctually longs for one of the only symptoms of familial well-being that he knows: the bonfire. This would be quite a heartwarming thought if it were not for the hard truth of it all!
You see, like an investigative journalist, the bonfire has shed light on the "corruption" in my life and put it on the front page for me (and others) to see. The headline reads, "Levi's Family Has Lost the Fire" or "Dormant Dad on the Loose." Either way, it's definitely hard news to hear, and, unfortunately, it's not fake news. This journalist has gotten the story right; the bonfire has brought illumination.
Although a bit depressing, I certainly appreciate the bonfire. It's flames are a little hot right now, but the swailing (i.e., burning away of the chaff) is necessary. Hopefully, new growth will occur. Hopefully, there will be a new headline tomorrow--a bonfire that brings a warm and comforting glow.
Are there any bonfires in your life?