St. John of the Cross used the analogy of a log lying on the forest floor to help illustrate the workings of the Holy Spirit. Now it was a nice log, content and pleased with itself because it did not know of its destiny of becoming one with the fire. So one day it was picked up and placed over a fire. At first the log found the warmth a delight, then as the heat intensified it became alarmed. For strange vapors where coming out of it, then all kind of insects were becoming agitated and started to crawl all over the log. Then the log began to bubble and pop and it became distressed. It became aware of all that was hidden within. While on the forest floor it was not able to perceive that there was much within that was actually destroying it from the center of its being, now all was before it to see, ponder and try to understand. It wanted the fire to stop burning but it would not. It groaned, begged, screamed and become enraged, but still the fire did its work. Until it burned all the dross away, then it became peaceful. For as a coal it began to burn with the same fire but now there was no pain, no resistance or interference, only joy and the sense of coming home. The coal was one with the fire, yet separate, all that was false that kept it from its destiny was burned away.
The truth will set us free. I believe that, but before we become free there will be a road of progressive self knowledge that may be not so pleasant. The nature of love is to bring to full life the beloved, so it is with the Holy Spirit. The “Healing Flame of Love” slowly seeks to bring us all to life, to joy and healing.
People tend to think the inner life, the life of spiritual seeking, is a pleasant affair, yet truth, the facing of the reality of what is within, is often confusing and painful. The image of the desert is an apt one. It is a dry place, a place where there are no discernable paths, of dangerous life forms that can harm, of unrelenting sun by day and extreme cold by night. It is in this place where one chooses to continue that love grows along with self knowledge. The living waters, the soothing balm of the fire of the Spirit is often found in paradoxical places. The term ‘waiting for the Lord’ can incorporate the entire desert like experience, along with the experience of streams of living waters. In the desert we learn to love for love’s sake, perhaps a life long process. The idols have to die an often slow and painful death.
To seek for the meaning of life I believe is a response of the Holy Spirit and it can lead down many winding paths, but the desire of the heart, to find the truth will always lead one deeper. It is when someone can say “I got it and you don’t” that Holy Spirit is actually blocked and a belief system, be it religious, philosophical or spiritual then becomes a close system, an ideology. Ideologies die, all of them, they become rigid and closed off from reality.
It is the Spirit that slowly brings the seeker into the reality that all that it desires will one day be experienced…..which at bottom I believe is love. To be seen fully, an eternal love relationship. It is hard to believe that one is the beloved of God, that God’s love can’t be earned, but simply is…..the Spirit slowly works with who we are, with our wounds, our pains, our failures as well as our strengths and gifts to make us into true works of art….each a unique work of art.
Come Holy Spirit; fill the hearts of the faithful.