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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fire Birds

Once again, I am sorry for the lack of Sunday Sip this week, Coffee Lovers. I'm trying to get myself back onto a normal schedule, but things have been hectic lately.

This week I want to break the mold a little bit and talk about phoenixes. For those of you scratching your heads: yes, you heard me right. I am writing today about mythical fire birds.

The phoenix is one of mythology's most popular symbols. I went and did some research today and found that phoenixes abound across all of the ancient east, from the Hindu Garuda, to the Egyptian Bennu, on to the Chinese Feng Huang, and finally the Japanese Hou-ou.

It is obvious why. The phoenix is the most hopeful of all symbols. It lives a full life - filled, certainly, with the struggles and pains that life brings - and then it bursts into brilliant flame. But it raises itself up again from the ashes, refusing - it seems - to submit to Nature's course.

The phoenix seems, to me, to be one of the most human of the mythical creatures. The unicorn is too holy, the gryphon is to fierce, the syren is too beautiful. But the phoenix? The phoenix is nothing more than mankind in its inisitent, persitant, and unrelenting struggle and refusal to take anything lying down.

Hard times are something I've been thinking a lot about lately. It is no secret that life is hard. But phoenixes are, if they are anything more than a fun myth, a reminder that no fire is great enough to burn the soul. It may burn the body, shock the mind, leave one scarred and unsure of where to move. But no difficulty or obstacle can stop us from rising up in a bed of ash.

I watched someone I really love experience great hurt at the hands of someone they really cared about this week. It was difficult - so difficult! - to watch what this fight did to their spirit, and their sense of balance, and their eternally smiling eyes. I hate any event that puts lines on the faces of my loved ones (unless they are laugh lines).

But as I write this, I think of my loved one and of phoenixes. The flames rage now, yes. But the ashes are coming, and the ashes are a promise of new life, tomorrow mornings, and new wings with which to search the sky. So, my wish this week is to be a phoenix, and to be unafraid of the fire, which surely renews us all from time to time.
Also, let's not forget that from the seemingly insignificant, brown and ash-like dust we call coffee, rises the steam of new cups, tranquil mornings, and budding friendships. Phoenixes, I guess, are all around.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.

"Phoenix Rising" is an original drawing
by Megan Drews.


  1. So you're amazing.
    Just yeah, in case you didn't know.
    And the topic and everything with Megan's fab drawing is just incredible.

    I just love this.

  2. really really powerful line btw: from the seemingly insignificant, brown and ash-like dust we call coffee, rises the steam of new cups, tranquil mornings, and budding friendships.

    michael you're just the best! okay I'm going to stop creeping now.:)

  3. I gotta say that I thought the brewed coffee-to-phoenix comparison was a little stretched.

    I suggest here that you remember how coffee is made- ripe berries on coffee plants picked and dried in the prime of their lives. Those berries are then roasted in fire and flame and ground to dust. But when graced with a bath of water, the . then brewed to be restored at it's full grace. That's really more metamorphosis though... since the renewed state is nothing like the original state.

  4. For me this is a good topic for Lent. The pheonix's ressurection is totally parallel to a Christ figure, and I really like the humaness; I think you're spot on with that connection though I never thought of it before.
    It reminds me that no matter what I do, no matter what happens to me, no matter who I've become, I always have the power to out of the ashes! Thanks Michael! Cause I was having a horrible week!

  5. Thank you Shreya and Gina. Anything I can do to brighten your week makes mine that much better.

    And Gina - I have to admit I was in a very lenten state of mind while writing this. I didn't really know it at the time though.