Our Silent Fires

IT HAPPENED IN the state of Iowa, and when it struck, I happened to be mowing the lawn.  The back yard of the rented house was at the edge of town, on the hillside.  Leafy summertime, and from the yard one could see other hillsides, trees in the sunlight, to the horizon.

Could I have been pushing a hand mower or was there a gasoline engine on the machine?  I think it must have had the engine, I think there were heavy waves of loud that afternoon.  Back and forth…zoom….zoom in the middle of the 1960’s.  Jonathan Seagull was an unfinished manuscript, forgotten at the bottom of a stack of other manuscripts.

Zoom…sometimes slowing in the thickest grass.  How am I going to finish this lifetime, I thought.  So many expenses, so little income from the few books.  I didn’t know why I was here, right when I was facing…what?  When you’ve got no money in a culture that needs money to live.  I didn’t think of it as a divine test for mortals, then.  It was the leading edge of disaster.

Why did I bother to mow the lawn?  What can I do that will somehow stop the sound of destruction for this life?  Could I get a job at the airport?  Would a business there want me for an instructor?  Some up times, as a writer, some down ones with other jobs.  Will it always be up and down, hills like this lawn, trying to live day after day?

At least I was mowing the lawn.  I turned the mower around at the high side of the lawn.  A little distance below was a barbed-wire fence where there used to be cows, more hills, and the horizon.  When I turned, I looked up for a second and the trees were on fire!

I stopped, I couldn’t believe!  All of them!  The shapes of the trees, near-trees and horizon-trees, were swept in waves of bright orange, shimmering sunrise colors, splashes of sudden blues changing second to second.  The barbed wire was glowing, as if it was electricity, pulsing the same fires as the trees.

For some reason I didn’t scream and run.  I stood there, unmoving, and looked.  I didn’t think what’s going on?  Didn’t think at all.  Just soaked in the colors of the trees, the grass, the fence wires, the firestorm of colors, for half a minute.  Then the fire settled down, the fireworks slower, smaller, the wire cooling until it was old wire again, and then the trees were just trees, everyday trees, green leaves and shadows in the afternoon.

After a long stunned minute, I closed my mouth and finished mowing the yard.  I had no idea what had happened or what it was supposed to mean.  What could I have said: “I saw the world burn up, but it’s fine now?”

Life went on.  I was a flight instructor for a while, wrote articles at night for magazines.  Step by step.  There’s a reason.  I don’t know what the reason is, I thought, so I might as well keep living until I learn why.

A while later, weeks, months, years later, I remembered the fires.  One clue: they weren’t fires — they were auras!  We all have auras we can’t see (well, some people see them).   Do trees have auras?  Later I heard about Kirlian photographs.  Close but not the forest on fire, and the glowing barbed wire.

It’s never happened since.   One half-minute in one lifetime.


In the Bible, the story about the burning bush that was not consumed, that was the same thing that I saw.  Not a bush, though, a whole forest, horizon to horizon, afire for thirty seconds while I stood there, mowing the lawn.  Was it whispering, This world is not what you think it is!

As far as I know, I haven’t written about that strange scene.  It’s been locked in my mind all these years, and when I woke this morning I saw some trees out the window and they reminded me.  They didn’t catch fire, they were just quiet little trees.  Yet I thought, behind the everydayness of the trees, do their auras sweep upward like flames around them all?  Do the fires of our own auras, I wondered, do they lift and fall as we live our screenplays, as we trace our beliefs on the world we chose for our lessons?

What lovely silent fires we light, never seeing them, as we play!

29 thoughts on “Our Silent Fires

  1. What happened to you has happened to at least one other, me. You were marked by God. I don’t mean that you were linked to any kind of religion. You were marked by what is a true reality to us all but which is known to only a very few if not less than a few. What you saw was real and to my knowledge you could have probably taken it even farther had you bee so bold in that exact moment. But I do know that what happened to you was meant for only you and it will never happen to another in the same way. What happened to me was meant just for me. Both experiences are confirming experiences that God (and the Adversary) is real and we do not have to be afraid in life or in death. I think God showed you that fire so you would keep working, keep writing. He was letting you know that he could see that you had a fire within to do something and from what you had tried up to that point he liked your writing the best of all and he wanted you to stick with it. He knew you were onto something even if no one else did and wanted to put a fire under you to keep it up. In all our life we try so hard to create and do so many things and we never know what will be the one thing that sticks. Often, in my experience, the one thing that is the most rewarding is the one thing we least expected to take off and fly the best. We are eternal and what we give in this life matters much more than we generally know. What you are doing may often seem unnoticed and unreciprocated but in your heart you should be aware that many hundreds if not thousands of people are touched by your work. Your honesty and sincerity and your willingness to selflessly share your thoughts are changing the world in ways you may not see in your lifetime. You have made yourself important by your writing and your fearlessness. Long after you are gone, you will continue to make a difference. You will see this, too in your life after death. Not to be morbid, but to insist that one day you will see the impact you have had on so many, including me. Thank you for being brave enough to tell it the way it is even though you are an island among most men.

    • The cause of what happened was never clear to me. I believe that I don’t see auras (which are there constantly), but something changed for a few seconds. My word of choice is not God but Love, yet Love doesn’t change our beliefs, or even see them. Friends on what we call the Other Side, I think we’re getting close; impossible coincidence from them, warnings, suggestions. Auras are not as remarkable as some comments (one whose car was thrown back from a speeding truck, for instance). I suspect that most of us who are curious about our lives have had something that we don’t talk about, that has touched our hearts, filled us with wonder. This world is not what we think it is!

    • I am just wondering Heath whether you could expand on what you mean by ´if you had been bold enough one could have taken it furtheŕ´ what could Richard have done or anyone done to go further according to you? Thanks

  2. “We teach best what we most need to learn.”

    “Yesterday I had a dream about dying
    About laying to rest and then flying
    How the moment at hand is the only thing we really own
    And I lay in my bed and I wonder
    After all that is said and is done for.
    Why is thus we are here and so soon we are gone.”…John Denver

  3. After reading this blog i am now going to be more aware of what i am looking at. I will share my experience once, not with fire, but with reverse image. When i was younger i remember i saw people walkng upside down and doing things in revrse one day-really, everything was in reverse everywhere, i felt i was in Alice in Wonderland and then after a few moments it passed but i never forgot. I tried to explain it to my parents i remember and they sort of found it interesting and that was it. Now, as i read this i remember it and am happy to say i just take it as a fine example that this world is not as it seems.

  4. What a wonderful experience. Glimpses at aspects that we don’t usually see are fascinating and can be awe inspiring. I am reminded of that part of “Stranger to the Ground” where you break out of the thundercloud into a silken black universe that stretches on forever…and took us with you on the journey. I can’t speak for other readers, but that scene had the same effect on me as that point in film “2001 – A Space Odyssey” where Bowman enters the monolith and the universe is laid out in front of him.
    A metaphor I quite like sees “reality” as a cloth woven from many strands. We usually experience a few of those; the physical, the mental, the spiritual…. As these interact with each other we can be fooled into thinking that’s all there is. Yet cloth is made from far more than a few strands and occasionally we get glimpses of other strands, or even patches of the cloth as a whole. We may not know what to make of them, but they captivate us none-the-less.
    Many of us, (myself included), may have never experienced an event like that, but just as you took us with you on you other journeys, so you have taken us with you again. Thank you.

  5. Yesterday I walked 7.5 miles with a 90 year old who is walking across America (his FB page is coast2coastruns). He does 7.5 miles every other day, so it will take him a while. Ninety, on no meds, still finding his purpose.
    I’ve seen auras since I was a child. No fires. Wow.
    But auras were one of the things that never got talked about. Such harmless, helpful things.

  6. I am struck by the magnificence of the moment you described, and you describing it. I have had moments in my life where I felt that something truly miraculous and utterly mind-blowing was revealed, and those are experiences I’ve never, ever forgotten. They are as if to say, “There, now you know beyond a doubt that there is more to this life than you witness every day….” What a validation and comfort to that deeper part of us that knows, really does know this, even though sometimes it becomes hard to believe and remember.

    Thank you, Richard.

  7. My silent fire happened while in a program at the Monroe Institute. Enclosed in my CHEC unit, basically a bunk bed with all sides covered to keep out any stray light distraction, I put on my eye mask and headphones to listen to the Hemi-sync (binaural beats) exercise. Soon I was distracted by a sliver of light teasing a corner of my mask. Wondering its source, I took off the mask to discover the entire CHEC unit was bathed in a golden light. Looking around for a source, it took me a while to understand the light was coming from me. I was illuminating the unit in gold. My first reaction was fear bordering on terror; my father was a manic-depressive. Was this some form of mania….a God complex? So I didn’t share this experience for years. When I did, it was with someone who had the same experience some years earlier. I later learned that under certain circumstances we emit a golden light out of our crown chakra. Whooda thunk? We are much more than our physical beings.

  8. My third eye opened last year, and I swear, I saw cartoons on my bedroom ceiling. They appeared to be metaphors for things that were going on in my life. I also get white lights appearing in my room, when it’s dark at night. I’m very glad to read this essay of yours today, because I am in a stage of life where I am struggling for money and trying to stay positive. “I don’t know what the reason is, I thought, so I might as well keep living until I learn why.” That’s a great way of looking at it. One day, with the benefit of perspective, I will look back on this whole crazy experience and understand it much better, than I do now.

  9. Wow, great story, just what I needed. Feeling down, just got this email in my inbox, the universe sure knows timing.
    Had similar experiences, when I was a child, around 8 to 10, had extra days. It was monday, went to bed, woke up and lived tuesday, went to bed and woke up and it was suppose to be wednesday, it wasn’t, it was tuesday. People told me I was dreaming, knew that wasn’t it.
    Sure reminds me to live each day the best I can, give what I can, and leave the rest to the universe.
    Thank you Richard for sharing. I appreciate it. Blessings to you.

    • How is it that these strange things are somehow sent to us with _love?_ Like the crop circles around the world, they somehow include sweet little drawings from friendly aliens. String “crop circles” and see “images.”

  10. … a moment incapable of being enhanced by rational leverage (mechanical, economic, political … even psychedelic). Celebrate the un-enhanceable moment!

  11. Reading your stories is like going on a journey without a map, exploring new places, going off the beaten track, hiking up mountains to ancient ruins and being surprised at exciting discovery. You really make my thinking move to new places, shift and reform with each posting as do all the comments. I have not had a Silent Fire experience probably because I would want to categorise it, label it according to my belief system, and try and re-create it like a circus act. I’m fascinated by the fact that you had that experience while mowing. You mention that life went on and you never chased its meaning and locked it away in your mind or so you thought. I wondered if such experiences can open someone up to a larger relationship with their world and with existence, despite it being locked away – can one control its effect on one’s life? Does one actually return to the identity one had before the experience? I wondered if your work and the love people have for you (including me and I have only read two books so I hope I’m not revealing my ignorance with my contribution) is testament to the fact that you bridged the transcendent with the ordinary and expanded the realms of what is possible for those of us who try to fit our aliveness into strictly defined parameters? Like Nick suggests were you opened up to another strand of the cloth at the other side of where you sat? Was it like the spark to your creative gasoline as Heath talks of? And if these experiences are mind blowing as Sue mentions, what happens to the mind afterwards – how do they inform one’s being when we have to be practical, make money and clean the house? Perhaps these are questions that should not be answered because it is my finite mind wanting to finish the puzzle rather than throw the pieces in the air

    • What a lovely comment! I’ll form my response in mind, step by step, reading again, slowly. So will other readers. Thank you!

    • Jane and Richard….i relished your comment to Richard and i felt like jumping in-i think if it were me i would throw the puzzle pieces in the air and carry on knowing i am part of something amazing.

      • Yes that is where my ramblings brought me too – such a sense of exultation to just let go of too much trying to understand from a limited perspective. Am so aware that I don’t know what I don’t know and in that space is a universe of wisdom if I could just access it. Thank you for your perception Jennifer.

  12. Thank you everyone. All the comments and insights are thought provoking here, starting with Richard’s experience. I’ve had moments like that. Some of them come to me in dreams. Some as I’m doing something mundane. They are usually puzzling at the time, and it’s only years later that they begin to make sense to me. I think a person needs to gain wisdom to understand some of the messages, if that’s the correct word.

    The meaning of one dream I had when I was fourteen escaped me at the time. In the dream I was riding my bicycle down the country road near my house. People stood along the road. They had sharp knives. They reached out and sliced off pieces of me, but I made it through them all like I’d survived a gauntlet. Recently, I realized that this was predictive of my life. So many people reached out to slice parts of me off. Their intent was not kind. But I survived it, and I learned and grew. So it was good.

    As best I could I learned from these kinds of things, ultimately realizing it was guidance. Some guidance from external teachers but mostly the teacher was myself. I just had to allow it. As I watch others and learn from their counterproductive responses to the lessons in their own lives, I am soooooo glad to be me, even though the writing I’ve done has not had the kind of success Richard’s has had. The thought is pure. The heart, mind and soul are growing, and I am truly in need of little else. This is a big realization for me, and I have to remind myself of it from time to time, when I feel down and lonely.

    • I was so moved by your post and your dream Vi and can relate to what you express – I have very little knowledge of dreams but I find them fascinating – I actually thought that characters in a dream are aspects of ourselves but I don’t know if this is correct. If so were these figures trying to cut at your young feminine innocence that was emerging at age 14 in this beautiful pastoral scene? Or is the knife symbolic of cutting away illusion and false identity. Can one say that you made it through that mutilation and became so much more ? It has a feeling of some kind of initiation to me albeit a painful image.
      Jane (sorry I put this on the latest blog from Richard)

  13. The fires you mention reminded me of a patrol in Vietnam 1968 on a mission to win over the poor peasants, a disgruntled discusted marine, flips a match into a hootch and the day is wasted once again. The ugliness of war. And the fires slowly go away with the years. Other fires pop up in other parts of the world to this day, but in between there is beauty and kindness that finally makes some sense to it all. Thank you Richard. Bob lascher

  14. What an amazing experience! One of my main goals is to open up and improve my awareness level. So many of us just coast on by day to day without really ever recognizing what’s going on all around us.

  15. Thanks for another informative website. Where else could
    I am getting that kind of info written in such an ideal way?
    I’ve a project that I’m just now running
    on, and I have been at the look out for such information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *