Burning Bowls


Burning The New Year
Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.


This is a ritual that I've partaken in both at home and at my personal choice for spiritual worship, the Unitarian Universalist Church. It's a bowl that you place a fire in, and you then write short notes or words on scraps of paper, or just hold the paper and thing hard on something you want to let go of, and then you burn the paper and send the releasing of it into the air.

Sometimes you can also burn the things you want to call to you as well. Either/or because as rituals go, it's about the intention.

It's a beautiful thing to see flame and fire, feel heat and smell the sharp and acrid scent. It's a powerful thing to name the thing you want to let go, or the thing you want to call in.

And if you want, you can roast marshmallows.