A long time ago a father built a campfire with his son. The father had to go away for a few hours, and night was getting close, so he warned his son to be careful not to let the flame go out.
The son received this responsibility with great care and seriousness at first. He added wood to the fire every few minutes for the first hour or so, until the flames grew to three times his own height.
But after realizing the great size of the fire, as well as the fatigue that was beginning to set in from running back and forth to collect wood, the boy sat down on a log to admire what he had created.
As time passed he just sat and watched, until eventually the flame stood no higher than his shins. He then got up and added a little more wood, but not as much as he had at first.
He did this several more times, letting the fire rise and fall, rise and fall, until eventually he fell asleep.
The boy awoke several hours later when he heard his father return to the campsite.
“What happened to the fire?” the father asked.
“I don’t know,” said the son. “It just went out.”
“It didn’t just go out,” said the father. “It went out because you stopped watching it. You can’t expect a fire to stay lit if you only admire it and never attend to it.”
The son, in his shame, kept his eyes fastened on the ground, that is until he heard his father poking around the inside of the fire ring with a stick. Digging through the gray ash like a miner in search of a diamond, the boy’s father finally stopped when he uncovered a glowing, red ember.
“Look here,” his father said. “See that? The fire may be gone for the moment, but if we care for what’s left the way we cared for the fire at first, we might yet see the flame restored.”