One of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver is titled “The Journey.” I offer it this morning as insight into the spirit of what Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel reading:
The Letter to the Hebrews is wrapping up, and you can sense it in the way it is written. Whoever is writing the letter—we’re not sure who that was—is piling on one directive after another. This is the part of the Epistle that makes it an Epistle—the first part of The Letter to the Hebrews sounds more like a sermon than a letter. But in this final section, we hear what we need to hear about how we are to live out our faith.
Fire is elemental. It's as necessary for our life, and the life of our planet, as water, or air.
Fire gives warmth and light; it cooks food, making it safe and desirable to eat. Fires draw us together. If you have ever been without power, you know what happens when you light up a fire. You start feeling better, and so do the people around you. There is no better comfort than sitting in front of a fire with people you love.
A friend of mine who loves books once told me that if she was ever stranded on a deserted island, the one book she would want to have with her would be a book of poetry by Maria Rainer Rilke. Rilke was a mystical poet whose deep and often dark poems shimmered with the light of a man whose heart was turned to God. It takes some time to sit with his poetry, to let it resonate with the strivings of your soul, which makes it the perfect book to take with you to that deserted island.