As we wait, set our soul on fire!

Contemplation is nothing else but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which, if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the spirit of love–

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul

I’ve been thinking about this quote written in the late 1500s by the mystic St. John of the Cross. Advent is a season of contemplation, a time when we consider the coming of the baby Jesus, but we also imagine with great wonder, His second coming!

The path of the righteous is level;
    you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,
    we wait for you;
your name and renown
    are the desire of our hearts.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
    in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
    the people of the world learn righteousness.

Isaiah 26:7-9

Isaiah reminds us that in waiting, our soul yearns to know God, to experience His presence. And so it is in Advent, our souls long for the darkness to end, for the silence to end, for God’s name to be praised. Oh, may we honor and glorify His name as we eagerly anticipate His coming! And may our lives be set on fire with His love; it’s by our love for one another we testify that Jesus is the very Son of God!

… man’s walled mind has no access to a ladder upon which he can, of his own strength, rise to knowledge of God.  Yet his soul is endowed with translucent windows that open to the beyond

Abraham Heschel

I love the idea that our souls are equipped with windows open to the beyond! And in our souls, our innermost being, the “is-ness” of who we are, we long for our salvation to be complete!

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Joy to those who long to see Thee
Day-spring from on high, appear.
Come, Thou promised Rod of Jesse,
Of Thy birth, we long to hear!
O’er the hills the angels singing
News, glad tidings of a birth;
“Go to Him your praises bringing
Christ the Lord has come to earth!”

Charles Wesley

In today’s prayer, I borrow a line from Ken Gire’s poetry –

Help me, God,
To have insight into the nocturnal language of the soul,
     with its wide variety of images and richly textured emotions.

Teach me how to long for you, how to yearn for your presence. May I find solace in your law, in the revelation of yourself given to us in creation, in fellow image-bearers, and your Word? I pray with the Psalmist today, “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” I’m reminded, Lord, that you also yearn, longing to be gracious to us! Thank you that you rise to show us compassion. Thank you that you are a God of justice and that you bless all who wait for you! Set our souls on fire with the spirit of Your LOVE! Amen.

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