Practices From the Inside Out: Spiritual Life Sparks Our Fire

Practices From the Inside Out: Spiritual Life Sparks Our Fire June 8, 2019

Spiritual Life Sparks Our Fire

I belong to a liturgical church.

Liturgical churches often try to remind us of our story by appealing to as many of our senses as possible. People stand and retell it to us so we can hear it. We use special music, or even ring bells, to remind us of our story.

Many of our buildings are filled with pictures to remind us. Some of our pictures are painted on canvas and others are windows made of stained glass. Sunlight coming through the windows reinforces and reminds us of our story. Many of us change the colors of our worship to remind us to focus on a particular part of the story each week.

We share a meal of Great Thanksgiving each week.  The taste of the bread and the wine remind us why we are here, and where we are going, week after week.

Candles give off light, heat, and smoke to keep us focused and reflecting on our story. Our story includes quite a bit of fire.

Even all of this, our usual swirl of sensual reinforcement, is not enough for some of the days on our calendar. Some days need special reminders.

This Sunday is one of those days. This Sunday, 50 days after Easter, is Pentecost. In our church, this is one of the days we use incense, which is on fire.

Incense has a strong aroma. For many people, it is not always pleasant.

This week reminds us spiritual life is pouring power into us. Spiritual life sparks our fire and gives us strength to do what it calls us to do. Like incense, it can be challenging, and sometimes unpleasant, but we always notice it. The aroma stays with us.

We are reminded of our story and spiritual life sparks our fire.

Spiritual Life Sparks the Fire Within Us

Spiritual life sparks a fire burning within us and in the world around us. It is energy which brightens our darkness and heats our cold lonelinesses. Spiritual life is sometimes sparked in new ways, and other times it is reduced almost to a few embers. It can be a torch to light our path or leave us tasting smoke and ashes.

Spiritual life is a fire burning in the fireplace as we sit pondering the lessons it has for us. It is a bonfire on a hill which can be seen for miles around. Spiritual life is in the flames of candles we light to draw us into their warm glow.

Like fire, spiritual life is outside our control. I live in a place where the possibility of fires is real. People can take steps to reduce them, but we cannot prevent all fires from happening.

I know people who seem to want to reduce the possibility of spiritual life igniting in them. They cannot prevent spiritual life, but they clear away anything which might encourage it. Many of them are afraid, particularly during dry times, of what spiritual life might do.

Spiritual life has a mind of its own. It can purify like fire. It can roast or consume, warm, or shed light. The spiritual life in one person can spark spiritual life in another. Spiritual life in the world around us spreads into us, reflected in what we see and hear.

We may believe we have extinguished spiritual life, preventing it from burning within us. Beyond our control, spiritual life springs back to life despite our desire to extinguish it.

There are times when we believe we have put out the fire of spiritual life within us.

Spiritual Life Sparks Our Pentecost

My church has a thing about fire.

It is not the church in which I grew up, which was more focused on fire and brimstone.

I belong to a liturgical church now. We light at least two candles every time we get together. We have special days we celebrate with a lot of candles, like Christmas and Easter.

The third great celebration of light and life and love in our liturgical year is called Pentecost. We may not be Pentecostal, but we have Pentecost.

Christmas celebrates the fire of being born; Easter celebrates the fire of resurrection. At Pentecost each year we celebrate the fire of receiving the power of the Sacred to transform our everyday lives.

The fires of Pentecost do not only light our time together, like candles at our celebration. Pentecost rains down on us and lights our hearts on fire.

Our Pentecost is about spiritual life filling our lives and sparking them into new life. The deep spiritual truths we usually think of as somewhere out there, or up there, enter our lives in new ways. Spiritual life sparks fire which fills our lives.

The spiritual flames ignited in us are powerful. We receive power to do things and to be people we could only imagine. Spiritual life sparks fire which turns obstacles which were holding us back into ashes. The fire of spiritual life sparks new life and new ways of living within us.

There are times when we become intimidated or afraid of the power of spiritual life. We do not want to be burned. Some of us do not want our lives to be transformed.

We watch the flames of the candles and see spiritual life burning within us.

Spiritual Life Sparks Renewable Fire Within Us

The fire of spiritual life is not about one day each year or one season on a liturgical calendar.

Spiritual life sparks fire within us which renews itself. Whatever we do to try to extinguish it or stop it from spreading, spiritual life continues to draw us.

Like the candles we light, spiritual life draws us into its light and heat.

The fire which spiritual life sparks in us reminds us of our shared sacred story.

How will we see where spiritual life sparks fire within us today?

When will we take time to remember how spiritual life sparks new life in us this week?

[Image by Peter Becker]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is  StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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