Prayer Ablaze–a woodstove meditation


The fire was unusually cranky and snuffy the other day, demanding my almost constant attention to get it going. There’s a wee wooden stool near to the woodstove so I drew that up for a sit while I was nursing it. Watching the flames, I was struck by how much a fire says about prayer.

When we enter our “prayer closet,” whatever that might be, what we’re really entering is the unseen, unfelt flames of Spirit which burn all around us, all the time. Just as the log doesn’t come into the fire to tell it how to burn, we come to God to be with God, to get more understanding of Divine Mind. Who are we to give advice to God or to tell him more about the situation because (S)He doesn’t know what’s going on? It is ourselves that don’t know what’s going on and must come to prayer to learn the Truth of it. We’re just there to burn.

Somehow I was reminded of the scene in Avatar, in which the Na’vi, who are under attack by the humans come together to ask their goddess Eywa for help. (I’m going from memory here so maybe stay with me a bit longer.) Both Na’vi and the avatars have on the back of their heads a “queue,” which is an external neural bundle which allows them to plug in to the Tree of Souls, the Tree of Voices or each other or to animals, providing an instant and deep bond that, while not transmitting intelligence, allows each to participate in the shared memory and will.

When asked how to pray, Jesus began with “Our Father” which goes on to say “us”—never me or I, so clearly there is a shared nature in prayer. First is recognition God as the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful Father. Next is unification with God’s governance and will. Next is a declaration of how every need, both material and spiritual, is supplied, followed by thanks-giving that God is All-in-all. And finally agreement—it is so!

My fire was sputtering and smoldering, both due to recently cut wood that also had gotten condensation under the tarp that’s stretched over the pile. The sap and water are foreign to fire and keep it from burning. I would have to wait for the moisture inside to steam out before the wood would burn.

 The sap is another story—thick sometimes, it just doesn’t want to budge. When we come to God with that which isn’t released and is not of Spirit, our prayers resist the divine fire. This is me more times than I would like. What I needed to do was find some older wood from the stash downstairs. All that wasn’t burnable is out of this wood already and so when I toss it on, it takes flame instantly and burns bright and hot. Sometimes in our spiritual journey, we can surely benefit from those whose wood is more seasoned.

Now the fire is burning well and hot. It’ll mind itself while I go do other things, although in the back of my mind I know I need to come and toss on another log every now and then. If I let it burn down too low, the firebox gets too cold to burn well and so I’ll have to stop and nurse it again to get it going hot. Similarly, we’re advised to “pray without ceasing” to keep the firebox hot enough for a “good burn.” When we return to the Fire again and again, it makes it easier for us to take light/Light.


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