I’ve been thinking about today’s quote from St. Catherine of Siena. What in heaven’s (or earth’s) name does it mean? What in my unconscious prompted me to put it on? I must admit that I don’t always mull over the quotes that I offer. After all, posting one a day is a challenge. Sometimes I think more deeply about them on subsequent days, but truth be told, there are some quotes that never get my attention again. But here I am today, thinking hard about what it might mean to set the world on fire, the implication being that it’s a real possibility for each of us.
Fire can be destructive, but I don’t think that is what Catherine had in mind. Maybe she was thinking about that spark in each of us that is for the good. We never know precisely what someone else has in mind when they write, but we can look and see what their words tweak in us.
As a start, I believe that we are meant to be truth tellers. Yes to others, but first and foremost to ourselves. Here’s an example that might speak to “those who are looking for silence, solitude and simplicity and who sometimes like to be alone.” A year before I started this blog, on my first day at the cottage in November 2009, I wrote, “I am afraid that I might like this being alone.” It has taken me a year and a half and two cottage seasons to admit to myself, and then to others, that yes, I love solitude and that yes, I am happy alone (not afraid).
Why was this so difficult to admit? In large measure because “the world” tells us that we should want to be with others all the time and that being alone indicates something very wrong. Just take the messages of TV, telling and showing us how to look, where to live, what to eat, how to succeed in business, how to make money, ways to get others to like us, with the end result to gain power over others. Those are the destructive fires that eventually burn out.
Admitting the truth that I like silence, solitude and simplicity and sometimes like to be alone, was a big deal to me, but it really wasn’t to my family and friends. Most of them knew that about me before I knew it myself. Now I try to live into that truth, being considerate to those close to me, while giving myself what I need to live authentically/truthfully.
I surely don’t claim to have set the world on fire. But I do hope that I have helped some of you to face that truth in yourself about your need for solitude; when that spark ignites, you have no choice but to take some actions to get what you need. Remember Joseph Campbell who told us to follow our bliss.