One of the most notable sights in all the National Park System is Yellowstone National Park’s “Old Faithful,” a geyser that apparently used to be more faithful than it is. Throughout the world, there are hot spots that allow the heat that is beneath the earth to approach the surface. This occurs, for example, in volcanic arcs like the Caribbean islands, the volcanic range of the Cascades and the Andes, rift valleys like that in East Africa and Iceland, and places like the big island of Hawaii. In all of these cases the presence of such heat beneath the surface  is a bad sign because it means that the continental crust is a bit thinner in a region and therefore the heat that is in the earth below can seek to escape to the surface, which is usually a bad sign for humanity. While volcanic soils are good for growing crops, they put people in danger of eruptions, and those calderas and volcanic lakes and mountains eventually blow their tops and cause problems for whatever is in the area.
In many ways, we are like volcanoes. All of us have thin spots between the fire inside of us and the world outside. Just like people who sought to take advantage of the rich volcanic soils of Montserrat or Vesuvius, so too the fire inside of us can make our lives rich in what we can do for others. Yet there is a downside, in that the volcanic soil tends to be the result of magma or volcanic ash pouring from us in some fashion. Our creativity is like the pleasant venting of the heat and fire inside of us, and while it can be beautiful for that sort of fire to be seen by others, it can also be dangerous. The more we say, the more we want to say, and the more we show the fire inside the easier it is for that fire to reach the outside, and that can be both good and bad depending on how we channel what is inside of us.
And so we come to what is a frequent concern of mine, and that is the problem of communication. Those of us who are fond of studying geology are aware of the problem. Just like the inside of the earth is immensely hot, its heat is necessary for life, and yet its heat cannot be experienced safely by those who are alive. Those of us who are well aware of the heat of the passion and wrath that lies within us, and who simultaneously appreciate the creativity that results from this, even if we do not always appreciate the circumstances that have inspired us most deeply, are well aware that we are custodians of a hot spot. At its best, the result can be like Old Faithful, amusing crowds who show up several times daily to see the geyser, unconcerned about the magma that lies below because they enjoy the show. At its worst, our volcanoes can destroy massive amounts of land, and leave ghost towns of broken relationships and destruction after we erupt. Not everyone manages their hot spots well.
Ultimately, we are responsible for the hot spots that we have been given. Each of us has our vulnerable parts where the crust is thinner and where the fire comes closer to the surface. Each of us has our own warning signs that we give off that allow those who are wary and cautious to escape harm or help cool things before they get out of control. Each of us, alternatively, can encourage other people in dealing with their own hot spots. All too often we are not good stewards of the good feelings of those who are closest to us. We may not see deep inside of those we are close to, but we generally at least know enough to know what sets them off, and take advantage of that knowledge to set off eruptions for our own sick amusement. To the extent that we know the sensitivities of others, we have solemn responsibility to use that knowledge for the good. Yet we are often not good enough to be worthy of that trust placed in us to act charitably towards those around us, to our shame. The more we talk, the more we want to talk, even long past the point where it is wise to be on dangerous ground. Yet if we were wise, we would not be the sort of people we are.
 See, for example: