When I first heard this allegory I felt a little bit of my soul jump in excitement! What a beautiful consolation to my darkness and sputtering. Plus I have always loved watching fire and admired it’s beauty and power.
“you spit, smoke and sputter in fire – a process of purification. Anger and bitterness is met with love. Our weakness and woundedness are felt..”My notes in Spiritual Theology Class
The fire and damp log speaks of contemplative prayer. John of the Cross specifically mentions it in the ‘Dark Night of the Spirit’.
When I went for silent retreats I often encountered the self that is blackened by the fire – smothered with soot and uncomfortably warm. Encountering this ugliness once was fine, but feeling lousy with every retreat I went for, I was starting to think that I was getting worse as a person, I saw all my selfishness, inadequacy, brashness and lack of love. Perhaps this following God thing is too tall an order. As much as I know I can’t be all that bad, when you spot a trend, you kind of start to question it’s reality you know? I started to believe it a little..
One can’t really tell the fire is making it’s way through unless you see the soot but I am reminded that turning to charcoal is part of the process, what a relief! The truth that I am infinitely loved regardless of what I feel or what I do is bigger than my brokenness is humbling. Now, when I feel myself ‘spit out’ something difficult to say, I feel like I’m throwing out bugs from within me, the bugs that have lived very comfortably within my bark. And once the bug is gone, it’s gone! Hooray!