Every winter, the town of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania holds a festival based on -- big "duh" here -- the Phoenix. The Heir and I make a pilgrimage to Phoenixville to participate in this event because it has a sacred application to life.
The festival occurred yesterday, in a deluge of rain. I told Heir we would go anyway, so long as the precipitation was water and not something frozen. Phoenixville is a pretty long way from where I live.
What happens in Phoenixville is this: After drumming and dancing by people clad in Firebird costumes, a giant bird sculpture made of wood gets set on fire. How does this happen in a pelting rain storm? Well, the thing is chock a block with accelerant.
Artists and builders work on the phoenix sculpture for months before the event. This year's bird was over 30 feet tall.
Until someone courting a maximum smite of Bored God karma burned it down at 3:00 a.m., the morning before the festival.
Phoenixville held the festival anyway. In a day's work, in pelting rain, its residents built a smaller but still inspiring substitute bird. With the dark ashes of the prematurely immolated bird still on the field, the new bird smoked, caught, and sent bright flames into the night sky.
How inspiring! What a lesson in resilience ... one I needed after a soul-sucking week at my workplace.
One of the traditions of the Firebird festival is that you can pay a small fee to have an Intention for the new year put into a box and sent Heavenward as the sculpture burns. This ritual had to be scrapped when the vandals struck.
But Heir and I are ourselves resilient. Heir made two origami birds while we ate dinner (the iconic Speck's Chicken in Collegeville, PA). We wrote our intentions on our paper birds and committed them, with prayers, to one of the smaller bonfires on the festival site. I brought a stick from that fire home to burn at Yuletide.
There we stood, Heir and I, dripping but unbent while the flames crested a sea of umbrellas. We knew the original bird had burned down before we left for Phoenixville. Like the other people there, we stubbornly proved that all which falls will rise again.
Blessed be the mighty Phoenix, the Sacred Firebird! All hail!