Monthly Archives: February 2019

Sparks will fly #7 #wicks


When sparks fly

glimmering specks rise

ashes form below.

Paradox in alchemy.

Mediated by wicks

twisted threads woven

drive capillary action.

Squeezing out oxygen

Shedding matter

With every loss

Light appears

Wick disappears

Darkness is forecast.

(c) MWere 2019


I light candles regularly for love, for loss, for safe passage, for comfort, for remembrance and for fun. The glow brings a gentle warmth and peace.  There is no romance and sometimes it is in defiance to the dark. I have long been supported by the adages “it only takes a spark to keep the fire going” and ”it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”.

It is inevitable that when light is shone, shadows appear, and I find myself sometimes preferring the dark so as not to find the consequence of shadows. A shadow is visible but an incomplete reflection, it has an emptiness and is a shapeshifter, turning and changing with the elements. Long shadows are cast when you are furthest from the light. A lot of candles might have to be lit to mimic the sun and bring a shadow to heel. The dark offers freedom from the shadow equally as the light at its height doesn’t cast much of one either.

I am facing a time where light and shadow, wick and spark are dancing around me. There are invitations to light candles, sit in darkness, box a shadow, hold space for light and dark to co-exist. I am drawn to the wick. Threads with space between them to enables energy to travel and transform bringing light as it goes and forecasting the dark in equal measure. The dance won’t work without the wick, it must be lit and extinguished, sometimes trimmed along the way.

The string, dipped in wax, and the strongest ones are soaked in salt and boric acid as well.  Boric acid is a wonderful pesticide especially for cockroaches and ants in our harsh Australian climate. And we all know the healing and preservative power of salt! Protection and preservation are embedded in the fuel.

I am noticing what lights me up and uses energy and in equal measure drains and descends me into darkness. The wick needs to be dipped into the salt and acid to be stronger. Pilgrimages are in the light and the dark, and to carry a candle ready to be lit and to know when to set it down is a series of discernments that come and go throughout the day and the night. The shadows are often long. The invitation seems to be for more light, not less and yet I can feel my resistance. I don’t want to see clearly all the time, to be brought into the light, sunshine that very best disinfectant. I don’t want to see all the truth, I want to turn away and towards the shadows sometimes. The hard part is to see things as they are.

I am going to spend some time being dipped in salt and acid getting ready for the steps ahead. To see clearly requires a lot of light. The wick is combustible, and inevitably sparks will fly.

art blur bright burn

Photo by George Becker on




Sparks will fly #6 #ideas

Just a spark, a reminder that some time, a long time, ago there was a spark.  A time when the heart beat a little faster and the mouth got a little drier when that person came into view or perhaps even just the hint of them coming into view, there was a spark.  There is an imprint of that moment on my heart, unlikely to be ever put to the muscle memory test.

I notice lovers all around me, falling, fainting and swooning into each others arms, in an age of gender fluidity to further add to the complexity of emerging relationships. I grew up in a family where there were a range of relationships and complexity down through the generations, which grew in visibility as I got older and could interpret them for myself.  I am sure there were plenty of sparks flying.  I remember my father asking me if I understood the meaning of the song Afternoon Delight as I hummed along to it in the car one afternoon when I was about 16, I really had no idea, yet within a year I would have made a better guess. I think about songs like Tutti Frutti and how scandalous they would have been in their day, probably more so than the banned Skyhooks album I had bought that same year, the direct lyrics more understandable than the saccharine sweet rock of The Starland Vocal Band.  There is something about Australian music that leaves little the imagination – direct, deliberate. I like that Australian quality which is not just in the music.

I fall in love with ideas, words, pictures and sounds. I have been known to fall in love with tastes as well (Maggie Beer’s Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel ice cream springs to mind).  Little sparks of ideas come and go just like the early stages of a romance where you notice a glance, perhaps an adjustment of clothing, a deep breathe. You find yourself bathing in an idea or a perhaps even, drowning in delight of where that idea might take you, taking you off with fantasy to a land of future possibilities. Getting carried away is surely a sign of sparks flying. A sign. Something is beginning to burn, to fuse, to combust. The fuel and heat of the idea, just like hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, create a chain reaction and a new energy is released – made visible in a spark. Before you know it, more and more sparks are formed from one another dying to each other and growing more out of each of the little deaths. Ideas fall away and new ones rise up, fuelled and fed on the ones who have gone before.  Like the lovers around me, intoxicating and generous.

The lessons of constraint, fences to hold the ideas in, are gifts, in much the same way as the limits lovers might set for each other. The gift of a constraint builds curiosity, innovation, potential. Over the years in my working life I have held the view there are really only three constraints, time, money and imagination. I have often settled on the view that lack of imagination is actually the only real constraint and the other two are there to help you stretch your imagination. Too often, too many resources, produces ineffective and completely unoriginal thinking. In my experience, when you don’t have much to play with, you are more likely to be clever and creative, more likely to come up with great ideas.

So it is inevitable, this is a season of creativity supported by constraint and ideas are being courted.

Before love there are sparks, so I am enjoying this dalliance with new ideas and there is muscle memory to draw on and synaptic pathways already made for ideas to travel.  This is a practice for a pilgrim to walk a path trod by others and to make it your own, as it is after all your path too. And only you can walk your own path. and maybe even be able to carry you home to that place where ideas can flirt with you to fall in love with them and make them visible, direct and deliberate, and not sugar-coated.


Photo by Samuel-Elias on Unsplash

Sparks will fly #5 #breathing

Just had some news, the kind of news that could have come anytime and at any hour, the kind of news that moves the axis of the earth a little bit, not a big bit, in my world, but in someone else’s the earth’s tilt won’t ever be the same again. For them their day started in an ordinary way, and ended richer and emptier. For thirty odd years we acknowledged each other every now and again with a greeting ritual: Me – hello how are you? And he said – Well I’m still breathing. We then had a giggle and proceeded into conversation. It was as familiar as doing a nod to start some kind of colonial two-step dance. These everyday moments are like an ember in a fire being carried in sticks from place to pace and when the spark is ignited with the breath of the greeting, off we can go to build the fire, a safe place to chat with the space between us held once suspended, re-constituted for conversation. We all have people in our lives where we can pick up where we left off, with ease and little ceremony. He was one such person. He lived on his own terms and under his own conditions and I will miss our every now and again conversations.

A spark is quite fragile really, sometimes needing a little coaxing to come into its fullest self to reveal both fire and air. The elemental energies glow and invite promise. The candle starts with the spark of a match and begins to burn joining it’s fragility to another carrier. Leaving one host and moving onto another, passing on and then extinguished in a puff. February is a month of birthdays in our family and I am reflecting on the spark of life begun in the womb, passed on and transpiring into candles and as they are blown out the years gone are extinguished, relegated to history, to behind and there in a clean sweep is the year ahead. Another trip around the sun waiting to be explored. Passing on and through the flames of the year just gone. The adage of what is past is past, rings so true at birthdays. We can’t go back and the impermanence of life, becomes real with the blowing out of the candles, the reminder and truth, that every breath in and out is a living and dying and to value each breath for that reminder to ignite and extinguish. To celebrate all that has happenned in a year and to also give thanks for the one who passed on the spark, to receive affirmation and acclamation from your family and friends, to be celebrated and then to steady yourself to take a breath, to blow out candles and in-spire – breath in – again – ready to bring your spark to the next year.

The divine spark of a person never goes out while there is breath in the body, and maybe for some of us in this species it doesn’t even leave the rest of us, somehow making a leap into the unknown, or becomes attached to another or fused into memories. I am not sure how this all works! I do know that in these moments when I hear news of a death, a memory is sparked off and I have a connection to the past, built on the foundations of everyday encounters. There is an unfolding of memories that are not chronological, they just float up, arriving as fuel to the spark.

Celebrating birthdays is a way of making memories to draw on for the future, to float up when the time comes and to join with other memories to notice the passing of the flame. None of us are getting any younger and here’s to more breathing in and out and fully appreciating the practice of still breathing, being lit up with joy at being alive and being celebrated for the unique, one-of-a-kind person you are in the world.

PS: Happy Birthday to all the February babies in my family.

For Your Birthday – by John O’Donohue

The blueprint of your life
Would begin to glow on earth,
Illuminating all the faces and voices
That would arrive to invite
Your soul to growth

Praised be your father and mother
Who loved you before you were;
And trusted to call you here
With no idea who you would be.

Blessed be those who have loved you
Into becoming who you were meant to be,
Blessed be those who have crossed your life
With dark gifts of hurt and loss
That have helped to school your mind
In the art of disappointment.

When desolation surrounded you,
Blessed be those who looked for you
And found you, their kind hands
Urgent to open a blue window
In the grey wall formed around you.

Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
Your health, eyes to behold the world,
Thoughts to countenance the unknown,
Memory to harvest vanished days,
Your heart to feel the world’s waves,
Your breath to breathe the nourishment
Of distance made intimate by earth.

On this echoing-day of your birth,
May you open the gift of solitude
In order to receive your soul;
Enter the generousity of silence
To hear your hidden heart,
Know the serenity of stillness
To be enfolded anew
By the miracle of your being.

from To Bless the Space Between Us


Photo by Aileni Tee on Unsplash