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Friends

Today I send you a warm mid-winter gift, a energizing song by the Colonial Chorale and the University of Northwestern Choir. Be ready to dance. This was one of our numbers for Martin Luther King Sunday.

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The Interior Castle (a book by Teresa of Avila)

illustrated by Michael and Isaiah Bischoff

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

Inspiration

 

Lust                            Women (men); Sex              Desire for                  Sensuous

Intimacy                    Beauty

 

Madness                    Song; Rock and Roll           Spiritual                     God

Longing                     Praying us

(Meaning)

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?

 

 

Holy Delicious Desires, Part One: Our Longing for God

Janet O. Hagberg

 

All humans share a desire, I believe, for a touch of the mysterious, for contact with a place beyond our reach, for an ecstatic experience, for a connection with the Eternal. Some writers call it longing for the ineffable. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century saint/mystic called it Caritas, Divine Love. Teresa of Avila, a prioress in the 16th century described it as momentary experiences of union with God. Not everyone who longs for this extra-human experience thinks of it in spiritual terms, but even when we don’t think of it spiritually we still long for “something more.”

 

I’d like to suggest three ways in which the majority of us humans seek some connection beyond ourselves. In years gone by we called these three “wine, women (men) and song.” Then the words morphed, probably in the sixties, to “sex, drugs and rock and roll.” I’m sure there are many more than three (like the thirst for power or the desire to make our mark on the world) but these seemed to fit together.

 

Let’s look at the three of them and what they give us. First, the wine (and other chemicals): Just imaging yourself sitting on a deck overlooking a glassy lake at sunset. You are with dear friends, having a glass of wine and toasting life as the sun drops below the horizon. Doesn’t that moment beg to be photographed or painted to capture its luminosity? But we also feel a bit of escape if we are honest. The high we feel allows us to escape from the daily run of fear, loss, despair. We feel connected, if but for an hour or so, with another realm that frees us from our earthy confines.

 

Next the women/men: Imagine the power of one of your romantic adventures. There is nothing quite so powerful as romance to infuse us with a new sense of self. We gain a feeling of belonging to someone, of being chosen, of being loved. It also is the power behind most of our business advertising, selling everything from movies and clothes to music and automobiles. Of course, women/men in our trilogy also suggests a sexual encounter. We get that tantalizing build up to a point of going over the edge, of losing control, of achieving a connection, of giving ourselves over to another.

 

Finally song: I remember sitting in my living room with a friend listening to a piece of classical music that actually transported me to another realm. I often cry when hearing music that takes me back to the place where I was when I first heard it. It reconnects me with who I was then. We feel the vibrations of the music in our bodies, we live the words to the melodies, we connect with the musicians. We rock. And we also drown ourselves in music. We can hide behind our ear buds. Music can even help us avoid the rest of the world, or to get lost even from ourselves.

 

In all three of these ways (sex, drugs and rock and roll) I believe we are seeking a deep connection, perhaps even a way of becoming more whole ourselves, or to fill some empty space within.

 

 

What is significant about “wine, women and song?”

There are several significant things about these delicious experiences that may explain why they affect us the way they do. Although all three are fun and intoxicating, in reality they can take us only part way to the ultimate experience of transcendence, which, according to Paul and most of the saints and mystics is union with God.

 

The first thing that distinguishes wine, women and song as earthy expressions of our longing but keep us from that ultimate connection is that each of them ends up being almost entirely about us. Our high. Our escape. Our desire. Our ego. Our intoxication.

 

The second thing that each of these experiences has in common is that we do them with someone or something external to us; alcohol or drugs, a sexual experience with another person, a band or recording, an instrument. And we often engage in them in order to achieve a high or to reduce stress.

 

Third, each of these fun and intoxicating experiences is quite easily addictive, lending itself to abuse of desire, to gluttony of wants, and a loss of control over boundaries of health. Sex moves into lust, drugs welcome addiction, rock and roll can sink into madness. These downward spirals are still all about us, but now we blame them on others who are at fault or are tempting us.

 

Fourth, and most crucial, in my experience, each of these human desires for the transcendent, the mysterious, the escape to a place of peace and freedom, is a sign, a symptom that we are searching for or desiring the “more” of our existence. And the addictive phase of the desire is our soul screaming, begging for a deeper connection with our Source, the Holy. It is a cry to fill that God-shaped vacuum which Pascal describes, the desire for Holy intimacy. Many people in addiction recovery can attest to this truth.

 

I have experienced each of these (sex, drugs and rock and roll) as exhilarating and as the momentary satisfaction of desire, delicious desire. But none of them lasted. They usually left me wanting more or depleted and defeated. It took a conversation with God to help me understand how I was stuck. My poem describes our dialogue.

 

 

These Are All Just Signs

I sat down to talk with God one day

and asked where do I look for you

How do I find you

You already do look for me God said

How is that I asked

 

You look for me by shopping when you are low

and by taking that extra drink when you are stressed

 

You work long hours hoping to find your worth

and you eat to fill that empty place within

 

Your most creative way of looking for me is

expecting someone else to make you happy

 

These are all just signs you are looking for me

 

When you know this is true

You will find me

 

©Janet O. Hagberg, 2006

 

 

Mistaking our desires for God

One of the easiest and most voluptuous errors we can make in life, in my opinion, is to substitute any of these three strong human desires; wine, women and song, for God, to mistake them for God, or to make them into God. In fact, although they may represent a desire for God they are all signs of our desire that ultimately fall short, but because they feel so good, they can easily seduce us.

 

Once we make the desire for God the actual God, we have made it an idol, and we may go even further to make the activity that represents our desire into God itself. And that would be to reduce God to human and ego-restrained terms and to greatly insult God’s imagination. But it is something we are prone to do, especially as Americans whose affluence has left us starved for meaning.

 

Two analogies might help to show the ways in which we lose track of the distinction between God and our desires for God. Let’s say you are waterskiing on a beautiful lake, skiing back and forth over the raw edge of the wake of a speeding boat, on only one ski. How exhilarating. How exciting. How intoxicating. But however exhilarating this is, the wake is not the power source. Nor is the driver of the boat the power source. The power source is the motor.

 

Or if you are on a sacred journey to a special destination, say the holy land or to the healing site of Medjugorje, although the journey itself is important and the experiences on the way are crucial, they do not substitute for the holy land itself or for the healing experience of actually being at Medjugorje. To make the path or the journey or the wake or the sex or drugs or rock and roll the whole experience is to make it an idol, to substitute it for God.

 

 

Naming the ultimate Mystery

This brings up an age old issue, that to describe the ultimate experience glimpsing God’s blinding light, of experiencing the other side of the veil as a thin place, or union with God is to reach the limits of human language and the inadequacy of human concepts to explain or imagine or describe. The saints tried to do it by using human analogies and even those are woefully inadequate. Paul talks about being crucified with Christ and that it was no longer he who lived but Christ who lived in him. He described being caught up into the third heaven. Teresa used an earthy analogy of a water trough ultimately being filled, not by an aqueduct bringing water to the trough, but by a mysterious drawing up of water from the earth under the trough to fill it to overflowing. St. John of the Cross describes it as soul union, a betrothal with God. Others talked of arrows of God piercing the heart. Hildegard had reoccurring visions called illuminations from God that she described and drew for others.

 

These analogies may be human and show the inadequacy of words but the saints’ experiences were God-shaped and God directed and life changing. Even though some of these experiences happened in the company of other people, God initiated them. They were not something the saints could produce by external means or through a planned experience. They were never seen as achievements but were gifts from God. When these gifts arrived they called forth humility, awe and reverence in the recipient.

 

Each of us has had some kind of sacred and mysterious experience, if even for an instant, but unlike the saints, we pass right by it, maybe comment on it but move right on. Frederick Buechner says that when the saints had such an experience, they would stop and look at it and take it as a sign of something deeper happening in their lives. They turned to God.

 

Does our deeper desire for the Holy, the ecstasy beyond us, the escape from reality that wine, women and song bring us denigrate those experiences? Of course not. It just behooves us, in my estimation, to keep growing towards God, to see those experiences (sex, drugs and rock and roll) as initiations into the ineffable, as beginnings of the journey to intimacy with God.

 

For part two of this series, see the essay Holy Delicious Desires, Part Two: God’s Longing for Us. In that essay I describe how each of these three desires stimulates a healthy longing for God if we acknowledge it. Eventually we also begin to feel God’s longing for us as an invitation to union with God.

 

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

 

 

Reflections on this essay

Which of the three, sex, drugs or rock and roll are most attractive to you?

When have they taken you to idolatry or to addiction?

What is your desire now for a transformation of these longings?

Who will you ask to accompany you on the journey?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spirituality of Baseball

I post this essay each year around Opening Day, one of the sacred days in baseball, I hope you enjoy it again if this is an annual reading for you!

I love baseball. I know, I know… players are paid way too much money, some of them cheat big time, the owners can be ruthless and the whole idea of sports could be seen as an opiate for the masses. Although all of this makes me sad, it doesn’t deter me from pulling out my 1987 and 1991 Twins’ World Series celebration videos each March in anticipation of Opening Day. But how can baseball be spiritual?

For Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), the co-star in Bull Durham, her religious journey has culminated in declaring her commitment to the church of baseball.
“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring… It’s a long season and you gotta trust. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.”

While I don’t commit to baseball as a religion, I do see baseball as a spiritual experience. Of course, to be honest, I may feel that more strongly when my team wins, but not always. If they play well and there are a few great moments in the game but they still lose, I go home satisfied.

So what do I consider spiritual about baseball? First, the goal of the whole game is different from most other sports where there is a net, a hole or a hoop to put the ball in or through. In baseball the object is to hit the ball, but the goal is for the batter to come home, to get back to home plate. Somehow helping your teammates get back home holds more meaning for me, maybe because of my own longing to find my true home in my work, my faith and my relationships.

In baseball one of the major ways to help get your teammates back home, around the diamond to home plate, is to sacrifice for them. A sacrifice play means that you don’t get credit for it but it advances the runner. Walks, bunts and sacrifice flies (which are good hits but caught for an out, while advancing the runner) are all examples. So a key to this game is sacrifice. In my life, the most beloved people who I hold closest to my heart have sacrificed something for me or I for them. There is something about releasing your own need in order to help another, without martyrdom, that is deeply moving and life-giving for me.

Then there are the transcendent moments in baseball; the long ball that is headed over the fence for a home run until a player in the outfield leaps at the precise moment to connect with the ball and hold it majestically in his glove; the poetic double play in which the short stop tosses to the second baseman who then twists like a ballerina in mid-air throwing perfectly to first base; or the play at home plate when the runner slides ten feet–and a bit out of the baseline–while managing to brush the bag with his hand to avoid the catcher’s tag. All of these plays leave me smiling or gasping with appreciation and bring me back for more.

Baseball, for the most part, is a gentleman’s (or gentlewoman’s) game, a reflective sport. It is not primarily a beer bash or a status symbol. It’s not fast enough for the fast crowd. It is a slow game usually lasting about three hours, although there is no clock, so it goes on until it’s over. Few major sports are like that. The clock is the competition. So baseball invites you to relax, reflect, chat with friends, and just wile away the evening.

Besides the game itself, baseball, for me, represents some of what is best about America, in ways that other parts of our culture do not. For instance, the tickets are still within the means of most people so the average person can attend a game. Last year you could get four tickets, four hot dogs, and four cokes for twenty-five bucks. I love seeing fathers with their sons or daughters, who are wearing their baseball gloves, eagerly awaiting a foul ball. As they say; Priceless. And baseball teams are now the most integrated in sports, made up of players who are Latino, Black, White, and Asian. Jackie Robinson, the first black player, hired by Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945, made this all possible. Reading his story is a lesson in courage and heroism.

Baseball is a business like most sports, but when you’ve lived in a small market city, as I have, baseball is more like a family. We grow our players in a terrific minor league system and they become part of our extended clan. We don’t have as many big stars, although we do have some, but our team plays well together because they are all needed. Last year several of our players had home run records between twenty-five and thirty. Our clubhouse is known for its camaraderie partly because most everyone feels needed but also because our management encourages a team effort.

I could write about all the rituals of baseball or the spiritual experience of keeping score at games in which Cal Ripkin hit his 3000th hit, or Johan Santana got a record number of strike-outs. When history is being made keeping score is a ritual all of its own. But I want to end this essay with a story that goes beyond anything I have ever seen in sport and a story that could only happen in baseball.

It happened in 2008 in a game between two women’s college teams, Western Oregon College and Central Washington University. Washington was up by two in the bottom of the ninth inning. Oregon had two on and two outs. The batter hit a home run to win the game but caught her foot on the first base bag and fell, unable to walk. According to the rules, neither her coach nor her teammates could help her run the bases so Oregon would have to forfeit the game. Until…two players from Western Washington went over to the player, lifted her to her feet and carried her around the bases, allowing her to touch each one and win the game. They had done for her what baseball is all about, carried her back home. It meant they lost the game. Now that’s a story of sacrifice if I’ve ever heard one. In my mind everyone won.

© Janet O. Hagberg, 2010. All rights reserved.
If you would like to see a seven minute documentary of this baseball game, go to
http://www.responsibilityproject.com/films/player/the-home-run/

Reflections on this essay
Which sports do you find interesting and why?

What parts of that sport do you find inspiring or spiritual?

What does that tap into in your life?

When have you experienced a transcendent moment in sports?

When have you experienced a gamesmanship moment that stuck with you?

A wise old mystic said that God puts within each of us a spark of the Divine. “The real question though,” the old man said, “is, how close are you willing to come to the fire?”

It is a question I have asked myself for several years. In fact about ten years ago a friend of mine, Debra, who does exquisite beading, made me a necklace depicting the two phases of my life, the busy achieving part, and the slower more reflective part that had more recently emerged. In the middle of the necklace she put in the words “How close fire?” meaning that the answer to that question was what had shifted me to this more reflective part of my life. I share the necklace with you in two photos, one of the whole necklace and one in which you may be able to see two of the words, “how close,” if you look closely at the black beads on the right side.

2014-03-15_15-35-26_4042014-03-15_15-34-32_376Reflections on this necklace:

How close are you willing to come to the fire?

Few souls understand

what God would accomplish

in them if they were to

abandon themselves

unreservedly to Him

and if they were to

allow His grace to

mold them accordingly.

 

Go forth

and set the world

on fire.

 

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Reflections on this quote:

What would abandoning yourself to God look like?

How is God’s grace molding you now?

How are you being asked to go forth?

What spark in you is ready to leap into flame?

Consume Me

 

My God, consume me in your flame

Let our fire bring warmth and light

Have mercy on me as we embrace

Fill me with your love

 

Let our fire bring warmth and light

My one desire is to dance with flame

Fill me with your love

We two becoming one

 

My one desire is to dance with flame

Have mercy on me as we embrace

We two becoming one

My God, consume me with your flame

 

Janet Hagberg, 2013.

Reflections on this poem

What is your reaction to this poem?

What does it mean to dance with flame?

Where in your life if God coming close?

 

 

IF YOU ARE WHAT YOU SHOULD BE,

YOU WILL SET THE WORLD ABLAZE

 

CATHERINE OF SIENNA

Reflections on this quote

What do you think you are called to be?

How close are you to accepting it and living into it?

What does it mean to you to set the world ablaze?

Are you doing that? How?

A disciple once came to Abba Joseph saying, “Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, my little fast, and my little prayer.

And according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my mind of all evil thoughts and my heart of all evil intents.

Now what more should I do?

Abba Joseph rose up and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire.

He answered, “Why not be totally changed into fire?”

A story from the desert fathers, 2nd century.

Reflections on this story:

Which disciplines do you follow?
Which ones work best for you?

Do you have a spiritual mentor to go to with your questions?

How could you imagine yourself, an earthly person, changed into fire?

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