Holy Delicious Desires, Part Two:

God’s Longing for Us

Janet O. Hagberg

In the Holy Delicious Desires essay, Part One, I delineated three ways in which we start our initial search for God, for that something beyond us, the Mysterious, the Eternal. These three ways are wine, women (men) and song, or sex, drugs and rock and roll. In this essay I hope to illustrate how that initial search for our Source moves to a deeper longing if we acknowledge it. Eventually we feel God’s longing for us as an invitation to a sacred dance. If we accept God’s lead, we dance as One, in union with the one we adore.


What, then, are these ways in which we may grow to anther level of understanding of the path that leads to that sacred dance?


Let’s start with a key concept that we need to understand before the rest will make sense. That concept is that God dwells within us as well as outside of us. The place in which God dwells is called our soul, holy place, grounded center, solar plexus, or as people in the Eastern Orthodox Church call it, our hesychia. It is that place in which we house many holy desires, among them a desire to create, a desire for intimacy and a desire for spirituality, a deep connection with the Holy. In fact, when we open ourselves up to a deeper relationship with God often some of these other desires (creativity, intimacy, spiritual longing) come into bloom as well. It’s as if they are all housed together and when one gets some attention the others are aroused as well. At our core, we have a rich mix of desires for the Holy.


An old mystic described this place within by yet another image when he said, “God puts within us a spark of the Divine. How close are you willing to come to the Fire?” That is the key question, in my experience. How much do I trust God to love me, care for me, desire me, invite me to Union with Godself? And how can we approach the divine fire if we fear the heat, if we don’t trust God, or if we feel totally worthless? How can we even witness this Holy fire without being burned or deeper yet, how can we let our egos die, and let ourselves be consumed by the Fire, so to speak?



Soul Work: the way we approach the divine fire within

Let me describe three ways we can approach the Fire, and then conclude with a special story about Dorothy, a young girl who dances with flame. The term I use to describe this process of deliberately coming close to the Fire within is Soul Work.


Soul work transforms the three desires represented by wine, women and song into an inward relationship with the Holy that is no longer ruled by addictions, lust, or craziness.


Soul work as an approach to the divine fire is not dependent on other people but more dependent on the Holy and the inner connections that God creates in our hesychia, our center where God dwells. Soul work transforms us through the distilled strength of God’s love and desire for us, and the sacred egoless place that develops in us as a result.


And the fruits of these experiences are outward, for the good will of the world. The fruits of this inner work are always more love for and good will in the world. No matter what our work or our social position, we are called to be God’s representatives on earth, vulnerable, trusting, repentant, forgiving, loving, healing, humorous.


The three ways I suggest we approach the Fire are creativity, desire for intimacy and spiritual longing. The final image is a delightful scene of Dorothy dancing.


These three, creativity, intimacy and spiritual longing parallel the three ways in which we began our search; wine women and song (or drugs, sex and rock and roll). Each of these three morphs into its sacred counterpart, and then accepts the divine invitation and collaboration with God. I will explain each set of changes in order. This sacred journey is a gift from God. Our role is to acknowledge that gift and to make wise and sacred choices, to be intentional about approaching the Holy, and to find wise and grounded people around us to mentor and guide us.



Wine (drugs) stimulates creativity, then accepts divine inspiration

Wine, or the desire to be transported into another world, is the desire for a touch of the mysterious, a journey beyond ourselves, a “trip” as the drug world calls it. This often shows itself as creativity or personal expression and can take us in a number of directions. So when we find our mode of expression, our voice, we are witnesses to our desire for a connection with this mysterious creative experience. Our desire is to express something with the use of our hands, heads, bodies. Our creation may make use of our inner ideas, thoughts, colors, wood grain, crops, fabrics, machines, type, knitting needles etc. We accept ourselves as artists in our chosen voice, whatever it may be. Artists of all types speak of this mysterious desire to express themselves via inspiration, muses, or unexpected connections. Creativity is a gift and is unique to each individual. Finding ours is like uncovering a treasure in a field.


The deeper movement of accepting divine inspiration, molds us into Union with God. We hear the Holy, our Source, asking to be the divine inspiration behind all our work, longing to be our main collaborator. We become part of the eternal flow of the Holy presence on earth when we say yes to God’s request to be our muse. We are bringing God’s love and spirit to the world. It does not mean that we necessarily create sacred art but that the work we create has sacredness about it, no matter what the content. People can feel it when they view or hear or touch what we have created. It has a healing or deepening affect on them. Creativity in this form, is a way of releasing our wills and being embraced by the Holy Fire within.



Women (men-sex) stimulate a desire for intimacy, then accepts the Divine invitation to Sensuous Beauty

Our love of bodies and body connections is an overlooked desire for intimacy with ourselves and with others. When we misunderstand this we can have many sexual connections without meeting our needs for companionship and understanding. Intimacy comes in many forms, including sexuality, conversation, collaborations, support groups, therapy, even physical touch in massage or body work or sports. People in the military experience intimacy through shared experience, especially in dangerous situations. So we know we all need strong connections.


Once we acknowledge that need for connection and seek a wide range of intimate experiences, our bodies believe that we can be trusted and invite us into a deeper relationship with our body-self and with God. Our bodies desire an intimate relationship with our soul, our hesychia. Our bodies send us messages from God through dreams, symptoms, sleeplessness, visions, tears, coincidences, visits from heavenly beings, cravings. If we listen and embrace these messages as God-given, we grow to a new level of intimacy in the world.


The divine invitation to a deeper level of connection is this: to know sensuousness and beauty as God’s longing for sacred contact with us in our bodies and our earthly experiences. Sensuousness is a way to honor the beauty of our bodies and to show our self-love, as a gift from God, no matter what we look like or how much we weigh. We can claim our life stance, our own scent, our texture, our sound, our unique look, because it is God who is present to the world through us. God’s desire for intimacy with us unites our two souls. It is a high form of discernment. It is thirst without gulp. It is touch without lust. It is beauty without vanity.


At last, a deeper experience of God’s beauty also becomes clear. We see God’s beauty in all of life, even in the storm, the dark, the grief of life. Beauty is what God leads us to as we journey into this union. There is beauty in the flaw, beauty in illness, beauty in surrender, beauty in Godself.



Song (Rock and Roll) stimulates spiritual longing, then accepts the invitation to intimate prayer: God praying us in the world

The human journey is filled with spiritual longing. We see it in the way we reach out for meaning; music, pilgrimages, books, gurus, getting lost in adventure and danger. In music, especially pop music, it seems the spiritual longings of our souls desire connect with the mystery of the beat, the lyric, the performer, or the song writer. In sacred choral music the longing is for expressing the inexpressible through our voices and especially our hearts. We long for elevation to another plane of life. We look for ways to get lost. We look for ways to get found. Spirituality: the longing for deeper meaning.


Then the most amazing thing happens. We’ve looked all over for God and finally we stop and realize that it was not about us looking for God at all. It was about us stopping and letting God find us. And once that happens all we desire is more contact with the Source, more desire for losing ourselves in God, even the desire for death (not suicide) in order to be reunited. The deepest way to be reunited is prayer in my experience. Not rote prayers or memorized prayers, although those are useful as mantras, but individual prayer as an intimate relationship with the eternal. The way God finds us is primarily through our willingness to stop, to listen and to hear God’s still small voice when we pray.


The ultimate journey is this: over time God’s desire for us becomes a life style infused with prayer that leads to gratitude for all of life. God is infused into each and every transaction and relationship, each gain and loss. God everywhere. God in everything. Once this happens we start to see that God has invited us to be so close, so intimate that we are no longer praying to God. God is now, in fact, praying through us. We become God’s prayer form in the world. God uses us as a conduit to Godself.



Dorothy Dancing: Flesh has Danced with Flame

As we experience these forms of soul work, we come at last to the image I described of Dorothy dancing. In a poem by Louis Untermeyer, Dorothy, a young girl, dances with flame. She embraces the flame, unafraid, and lets it be her dance partner. Miraculously, Dorothy and the flame become one. The Soul unites with Flame. In the dance of intimacy with God we become One.


In the words of Untermeyer, “Then, as the surge of radiance grows stronger/ These two are two no longer/And they merge/Into a disembodied ecstasy/…What mystery/Has been at work until it blent/One child and that fierce element?/ It is enough that flesh has danced with flame.”


This whole journey, the change from wine women and song ultimately into divine inspiration, sensuous beauty, and God praying us into the world, happens for one reason and one reason only. The powerful force behind it all is God’s unconditional love and longing for us. The love and longing of God are what draw our souls to Godself and reunite us with our creator in a final burst of divine flame.


I will end with the best way I know of describing this breathtaking love of God that we come to know intimately in the process of soul work. I offer the words to one of my favorite hymns that uses a writer’s images to describe this love that we can only point to but not adequately describe with words.


Could we with ink the ocean fill

And were the skies of parchment made

Were every stalk on earth a quill

And everyone a scribe by trade

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky



Ó Janet O. Hagberg, 2014. All rights reserved.

Excerpt of“Dorothy Dancing” by Louis Untermeyer, from The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, compiled by Jackie Morris. The hymn, “The Love of God,” is so old that it does not appear in most hymn books. It was written by Frederick M. Lehman in 1917 and arranged by his daughter, Claudia L. Mays. The song is based on a Jewish poem written in 1050 by a cantor in Worms, Germany. The words from the stanza I cited were first seen penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he died, and were assumed written in a moment of sanity.


(The following chart didn’t transfer well or accurately so if you want the information on it, email me and I will get it to you. janethagberg@comcast.net

Summary Chart: The Journey to Union with God


Downward Spiral     Most Human Desires         Upward Longing     Union



Addiction                   Wine; Drugs                         Creativity                  Divine



Lust                            Women (men); Sex              Desire for                  Sensuous

Intimacy                    Beauty


Madness                    Song; Rock and Roll           Spiritual                     God

Longing                     Praying us


ÓJanet O. Hagberg, 2014. All rights reserved.




Reflections on this essay


How have you experienced creativity, desire for intimacy or spiritual longing as a healthy practice in your life?


What mysterious and/or sacred experience have you had that touched you deeply?


What is the call to you that emerges from reading about this deeper journey?


What gives you hope that your journey represents God’s longing for you?