In an On Being interview titled "The Soul in Depression," poet, psychologist, and professional translator Anita Barrows said, "In the fire there is only fire." That phrase called out at me at the time, asking to become a blessing.
I do not know what form your fire takes. Maybe it is depression. Maybe anxiety. Maybe grief. Maybe illness. I simply know that if you are within the fire, this blessing is for you.
A final note: I was still crafting this blessing when I learned of Anthony Bourdain's suicide, just days after Kate Spade. If you or someone you love is considering suicide, please reach out. You can call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit them online here.
A BLESSING FOR ONE WHO WALKS THROUGH FLAMES
In the fire there is only fire,
Flames dancing and burning and blinding.
There is no path forward or back,
Above or below.
There is only fire.
May no one say:
“It gets better.”
“It will make you stronger.”
“You don’t deserve this.”
“It is always darkest before the dawn.”
These words are accelerant,
And the flames leap higher.
No. Instead of empty words
May there be one who finds a way to
Enter and to be.
May the fire let them approach.
May you be joined within the flames.
May this one hold the hope for you,
Without rushing the healing.
May that presence be grounding.
May it create the tiniest
Downbeat of a pause
And the fire.
May it be enough distance
To see the flame as separate.
May it be enough space to survive this day.