Six years ago, I found myself unemployed for the first time. I had been teaching in an alternative school, but the parent company ran out of money and the facility closed. I received a week’s notice that I would be out of a job, and on my last day there, I spent it at a trash barrel in the back of the property burning confidential student files and other miscellaneous items. For some reason, as I was standing in the shower this morning listening to “Car Radio”, my mind flashed back to that memory and I have been replaying it.
In a way, the event is representative of something bigger.
Standing in a circle around a fire with a group of people who had been my work family for a year seemed like a fitting end. Fire consumes, destroys, clears. But is the consumption, destruction, and clearing to demonstrate that something has come to its consummation and has now ended? Or is it about something bigger?
Forests require burning from time to time so that new life can occur. Farmers will control burn a field so that the ash can be tilled in to the soil for nutrition. That moment around that trash barrel was the dying off of a job, but it also sparked the beginning of looking for another job that brought me to where I am now. In short, the fire could be seen as an end/beginning. And maybe that’s how we need to look these endings.
In the Bible, the writer John in the book of Revelation tells about how there will be a new heaven and earth because the old ones passed away in fire. New life will not occur until fire has happened.
In English there is an expression, “going through the fire.” We typically use it to refer to some trial or test that will make us better on the other end. And that is the point. When these types of endings come, we should latch on to them and the weight that they carry because after the flames have wiped out what was there previously, something new and better is coming.