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Becoming Fire

A story from the desert fathers: Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not become fire?

Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves and gravity, we shall harness for God energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world we will have discovered fire.

Teilhard de Chardin

I love this little story from the Desert Fathers.  In the spiritual life we keep our practices, spend time in prayer, seek God in all things, and yet at some point even all this is not enough and we are asked to become fire.  Becoming fire, for me, means letting my passion for life and beauty ignite me in the world.  We are drawn to creativity because it is woven into the fabric of our very being and it taps into what is most vital and alive in us.  This pulsing in our veins always seeks expression in the world, whether through art, song, cooking, gardening, our work, relationships, or in our simple presence to others.

Many of the mystics talk about God as the living flame within each of us: we each contain a spark of the divine.  Fire is a symbol of purification and passion, warmth and raging power, destruction and rising up like the Phoenix from the ashes.  Becoming fire means holding these tensions and saying yes to life by the very way we live. It means unleashing the tremendous power of love into the world and, as Chardin says so poetically , discovering fire for the second time.

Do I live my life aware of this holy fire within me?  What ignites me with sacred passion for the world?  What would it mean for me to become fire?

-Christine Valters Paintner

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3 Responses

  1. In the Eucharist, Christ gives us his very body and blood so that he may become one with us and we with him.

  2. Yes. It is not just enough to focus our prayers on feeding us spiritually. Nor is it good to just run out in the world trying to feed everybody else. I have tried that, how tired, drained and burned out and meaningless my giving became.

    I really like your posts.