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We use fire as a metaphor for many things—love, faith, energy... That astonishing force of nature has been an indispensable part of human life from the beginning. The passion to create is a similar force of nature. Creativity, like fire, can be a spark or a raging inferno and the two forces may join to fashion a powerful beauty.
Fire gives both light, and heat. It has been used to cook, to purify, to bake pottery and to forge metals. It illuminates the gloom—the inner darkness as well as a frigid night. It can bring hope.
More than anything, fire has brought people together to form bonds. We are drawn to it in our hearths and around our campfires where there is warmth not just from the flames, but from intellectual and spiritual contacts with others.
In religious traditions, fire has often symbolized the supernatural. It could be a burning bush, tongues of fire, or even the eternal torments of hell.
Fire can be an inferno—hell on earth. It has destroyed homes, neighborhoods, and entire cities. It has taken unknown numbers of lives and wreaked terror and grief through millennia.
So, why do we have beautiful paintings of human tragedy by great artists? What is the mesmerizing attraction? Maybe it’s the dramatic contrast of the deep darks of the night against the explosion of consuming flames. Maybe it’s the paradox of life feeding on death: beauty born of flame and the trauma and desolation of dreams turned to ashes.
Maybe it’s that trauma burning inside the artist that impels the passion to create—to reach for answers—to rise above black despair and reach for the glow—to find the spiritual.