Within Our Darkest Night You Kindle The Fire That Never Dies Away

The first reading from the Scriptures this Sunday tells the tale of Moses seeing and encountering God in The Burning Bush.

Fr. Richard Rohr suggests in his book Falling Upward, that in the first half of life, we focus on the externals; on the law, correct rituals, and correct beliefs. While these are not bad things, they help us in creating containers that will allow us to share in life changing encounters with God, they shouldn’t be the end of the journey.

Instead, as we move into the second half of life, we will find ourselves caught up in the burning presence of God. 

“Early stage religion is largely preparing you for the immense gift of this burning, the
authentic experience of God that always "burns" you, yet does not destroy you. though creating a proper stable into which Christ can be born.”  

 Yes, we can be content with the show, but if we are content with the show then we’ll miss out on the secret blessings of mystical union with God."

Paradoxically, it is during those times of our lives when we may want to push God away from us, because of our anger or grief that God often imperceptibly draws closer. Like Moses, we need to see and pay attention to the burning fire.

Only God can turn our sorrow into joy and our anger into forgiveness and love. It is God alone who can brighten the darkest times in our lives.

This is a beautiful and lesser well known chant from Taize that fits well with the themes this week. 

"Within Our Darkest Night You Kindle The Fire That Never Dies Away" by Jacques Berthier, 1991.

The Catholic church is going through some dark nights. Even though hardship may be ever present, God is faithful and God’s grace will be present in difficult times.

Cardinals will meet in a conclave soon to elect a Pope and I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will rekindle the fire of renewal and healing peace in all of us.

The first reading this Sunday relates how God tells Moses to take off his sandals because he is on Holy Ground. 

John Philip Newell writes in this extract from "Walking With Naked Feet"....

"Gerard Manley Hopkins, inspired by the Celtic landscape and culture of north Wales, writes in his one of his greatest poems, 'God's Grandeur,' 'There
lives the dearest freshness deep down things.' 

It is what Hildegard calls the 'greening power' or the 'moistness' of the Spirit that is deep in the body of the earth and the human soul. 

Hopkins invites us to turn our attention to the 'inscape' of things, the inner landscape of creation and the human mystery from which the 'dearest freshness' can spring again.

Yet instead of walking the earth with awareness, with a sensitivity to the Source that is "deep down things,' we have dulled our capacity to feel. 

'Nor can foot feel, being shod,' writes Hopkins. We have become heavy footed, covering over and deadening our deepest faculties of perception.

In the story of Moses and the burning bush, in which Living Presence is revealed in the words 'I am who I am' or 'I will be what I will be,' Moses is told to take off his shoes, for the ground on which he is standing is holy. 

He is told to uncover the soles of his feet, a place of deep knowing in the human form. Think of walking barefoot in the grass. Think of placing our bare feet into the coolness of a refreshing stream. When we do so, we see in a new way. 

 Doors of perception are opened in us. Rabbi Nahum, in teaching on this passage from the Torah, likes to say that the important aspect of this story is not that the bush is burning but that Moses notices. 

For every bush is burning. Every bush is aflame with the Living Presence. The 'fiery power,' as Hildegard puts it, is hidden in everything that has being."

I chose this beautiful hymn, "The Ground "by Oli Gjielo, taken from the last movement of Ola Gjeilo's "Sunrise Mass."  because it conveys the fresh creative energy of the Holy Spirit in the heavens coming down to the earth to "ground us" and give us the peace that only God can provide to our restless hearts. 

I suppose it is more allied to a hymn for Pentecost, but given that the Holy Spirit wanders where "she" will and is not constrained by time, it does not matter. 

I have a hope too, that the Cardinal electors when sealed in their Vatican Upper Room "take off their shoes", dismantle their "institutional defences" and let the flame of the Holy Spirit settle on their heads and inflame their hearts - God knows we all need guidance and inspiration at this time more than ever.

I also carry the same hope and prayer for us all.

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