I have no lighter tonight. I spend what seems like forever in the cold and wet, nursing a little ember from the night before. I can barely see to tear my paper. I surround the ember with light, feathered pieces, but the air is too cold, the wind too sharp. The paper chars, but does not burn.
I add another layer, and another. Knowing that some will only serve as insulation from the wind; while others will cook and spread the thin little lines of orange, but fade to ash before a flame is ever struck. But even the ashes hold heat. Iterations pass, and each new layer gathers more fuel, more heat, more potential.
New pieces scorch faster, differently this time, every edge is racing with the crawling glow. I breathe upon it; breathe and fan, and hope until at last it happens. The cinders erupt into flame. The night is split open, even the wind cannot stop it now.
It must be supplied with fuel, I know. Even the strongest fires will die if not fed and tended to. But at long last the flame is here, and every step now is a hundred times faster than the one before. I can see, I can feel my hands again. In less than a few minutes the fire is a blaze: roaring, self-sustaining; the air is electric, and the darkness cast back.
Think upon these things, and remember there is much to learn in these days of twilight – from the humble tending of tired embers.
Think upon those sons of ours who will come in future generations, bearing such a blaze as to embolden the whole world. Think then upon whom their thoughts should dwell, as they sail forth among the stars. When they remember back in the quiet of their sacred hours, to the myth and misery of these grim years before dawn. How envious they should be of us! Of we, the brave, the unyielding, the God-chosen keepers of the flame, unbowed through the great breaking night of the world!
What longing must they suffer, I pity them! Casting their wishes upon the very stars they pass, praying that somehow fate might for a moment deign to cast them back… To join us, here at the hour of humanities judgment. Here when the moment was decided. To share in the rush of bravery, to bear with us the eternal flame of our folksoul amidst the cold and scouring winds of this legendary age.
This age when the fraying threads of mans disparate nobility at last regathered themselves the break free of gravity; this age when mankinds perdition was exchanged for virtue, and he rose in triumph to touch the face of God, to abolish death, and soar at last amongst the very stars which had guided his birth. To bear witness indeed to a final age of darkness, and share in the glory of this last brave band of heroes who withstood it all, and tended the flames which gave birth to a whole new world.
But that, gentlemen… that glory belongs to us, and I thank God to have been here to share it with you.