Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Dance, Holy Flame

Dance, Holy Flame. Dance into our darkness. Come as the old friend we are expecting, and come strangely disguised and unrecognised. Come as the guest who brightens our nights with flutesong, tall tales and laughter, and as the visitor who disturbs and exasperates. Enter our homes unnoticed, even uninvited, slipping in on the winter wind, as we bustle to leave the cold and hurry to close the door. Come and gust into the dusty, cobwebbed corners we ignore. Dance, too, around our glittering lights, revealing their lacklustre and granting them a glimmer of your own brilliance. Touch, and turn our festive trees into burning bushes of your Sacred Presence – each ornament a holy reminder of the human giver, maker, conceiver; the riot of untidy and melodious colours and shapes echoing creation's chaotic beauty.

Come to our feasts and revelries. Take our hands and spin us till we are breathless and drunk with joy. Or stand on the sidelines and watch, a contented wallflower. Sit in the empty chair at our shared meals, stand with kindly hand on the burdened shoulder, or crouch smiling beside the happy child. Delight to bring platters laden with exotic fare held high above your head, and be happy to sit with us in the silent darkness caught by a flickering flame and a smouldering spirit.

Surprise us with the way you skip and trip through our days, our spaces and our interactions, merrily weaving around our furniture, touching with gladness the well-worn wood and frayed fabric, and lingering over our conversations – careless or cheerful, stilted or strained. Dance hotly in our sudden rages and hidden furies, to temper and refine, and rock us gently in our loss and despair. Dance closer and then dance away; just as we think we have perceived you, shift and change before our eyes – leave us guessing and in wonder.

Sit where you will in our church services: at the very back on the pile of unused chairs, or in the front row, eager and attentive; even propped against the holy altar if you wish, if you dare. Bear patiently with our fumbling words, our desperate attempts to see, seek, apprehend; touch, adore, and emulate. Please, deign to alight on our gatherings, and scatterings, our grapplings and graspings. Make the simple song, candle, and holy story enough for us, and yet not enough; may we enter into the Holy Now and glimpse as we do the Ever Beyond.

Dance, Holy Flame. Dance in our darkness, which is as light to you. Bring us your light, which is dark to us. May your flame in our midst grant us peaceful trust to sit in darkness, and expectant hope for the coming dawn. Come watch and wait with us. And, at your departing, leave behind unnamed gifts, which we will open as the new year begins.

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