The Fire and the Light

flame - fire

We are in the last week of Easter, which culminates in Pentecost. On the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit “fell upon” the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, and at that point the community of faith became home to God, each person a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. There was the “speaking in tongues,” with the Apostles proclaiming the story and work of Jesus in the languages of all people-groups present in Jerusalem at the time. There were signs and wonders. The band of disciples was at that point transformed into the Body of Christ.

In that one paragraph is enough theology to unfold for weeks, but let’s look at the words of Mechthild of Magdeburg.

Wouldst thou know my meaning?
Lie down in the Fire
See and taste the Flowing
Godhead through thy being;
Feel the Holy Spirit
Moving and compelling
Thee within the Flowing
Fire and Light of God.

—Mechthild of Magdeburg, The Flowing Light of the Godhead

She recognizes the enlivening, moving presence of divine life in each of us. The Spirit is fire, light, flowing air, or water. And it is personal. The Holy Spirit works within my own soul, and whether in times of belief or unbelief, hardship or encouragement, work or rest, I am responsible to “lie down in the fire,” to allow the overwhelming experience of God’s presence to move through me and compel me.

I am convinced that we have grown sluggish when it comes to attending God’s presence that already works within us intimately, ceaselessly, and intensely. As the day of Pentecost draws near, may we open our lives to the fire and light that give us life.

  • Write a one-sentence prayer that invites the Holy Spirit’s movement in you.
  • Write a single phrase that, for you, describes the Holy Spirit in your life.
About Vinita Hampton Wright 4 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality and is a blogger at dotMagis. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

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