By Colin Lenhart (Seattle, WA)

Ritaka-photoThe fire crackles and burns brighter as one of us places another piece of wood into the center. The flame in our hearts does the same as we express ourselves, placing our fears and joys into the circle and igniting a flame of a different kind. The young men and women sitting around the fire laugh as another “so bad it’s good” joke is shared. As we talk, the words move with a joyful ease, like a conversation between old friends, flowing between stillness and movement as we all take our turns listening and sharing. The topics ebb and flow and the emotions move with it. Blissful tears are shed, as a young woman with her guitar serenades us. Her voice, already beautiful, is sweetened by the courage she displays in sharing it. Powerful words of anger arise, as one of us gives voice to pain, the wound inflicted by another sitting around the fire. The expression becomes at once more essential and more difficult and listening to it is almost as hard. But after those tense moments of conflict die down, we still sit with each other, somehow feeling closer than we were before. And the river of conversation flows again. There is no destination we aim for, nothing we are looking to attain, simply content with enjoying the companionship and love that the circle exudes. We put more wood on the fire. And so goes another night at Ritaka.

Ritaka is a summer gathering of young people. We camp together for a weekend as a way to deepen our connection to and learn from each other. But while the attendees may be young people, the gathering is connected to and made possible by many others in the Sacred Fire Community. The person that allows us to use their land. The initiated firekeeper who holds the space for us and keeps us safe. The kind souls that cook food for us. Those that share the invitation with their younger friends. Those that donate money so less financially able young people can attend. And those that hold us in their prayers. These people and many more make Ritaka possible. As we come upon 2016, our 6th year of Ritaka, please consider spreading the word about this lovely event. If you are a young person who wants to be given updates on Ritaka or just someone who wants more information or to help in some way please feel free to contact me at I would be happy to talk with you.