Recently, after some time in silence and prayer with my spiritual director, an image of God’s spirit as holy fire pervaded my mind. I desire the fire of God’s spirit to purify my life. Fire understandably sounds scary to us; we don’t want to be burned. But as I reflected on this image of God, I was drawn to the fire and inspired by all the good in it.

God’s spirit is like a fire that consumes everything that is not love in my life: my ego, my agendas, my competitiveness, my fear, all the ways I hoard because I think of resources as scarce. In the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, all of that is burned away. What remains is this simple truth: God is love, and I am in God, so I am loved. This is the gold that is purified when all else burns away. When I quiet myself to sit and receive His love like a child, I become aware of all the other things I was seeking and propping up for His and others’ approval. In the stillness, all that other stuff gets stripped away, and the truest things about God and about me emerge. These pure truths are all I ever want and all I ever need.

When I leave spiritual direction, I leave the silence. Almost immediately, as I drive down Santa Fe Boulevard, a host of little ambitions, distractions and agendas re-emerge in my mind and heart. Silence leads me into the presence of Holy God, Consuming Fire, and I need that daily practice so that my life may be constantly distilled and purified.