Let Us Flame

pentecost1 The event at Pentecost is the happening that begins Christianity. It is our shortest festival because in fact, it happened in the blink of an eye. We celebrate it over three days to fully unfold this special moment when something changed in those human beings who had walked with Christ, learned from him, felt him as part of themselves. They did all this as if in a dream. But at the moment of the fiftieth day, Pentecost, which has long been a festival of harvest for the Jewish people, suddenly they woke up, they caught fire and were now able to awaken to the true gifts they had received from the Risen One. The harvest of this festival is the rising up of the individual flame in each one!

Why flame? The picture of this moment when the Holy Spirit comes to them is pictured in flames above their heads. This is a picture for what we say when we make the third of the three crosses…we say: the Spirit God enlighten us. Flame enlightens. The light that comes from a single flame is remarkable. A single candle can light an entire room!

Flames also bring heat—intense heat that transforms all earthly material. We hear of this fire in the gospels in the many words of Christ telling us that all branches that no longer bear fruit—that carry no more future in them—shall be gathered up and burned. Are they gone? They are transformed! The forces of growth that were poured into them is returned and strengthened in the remaining branches which might bear fruit. It is a kind of focusing of creative power.

So also when we are enflamed for something, when we burn for something. Fire is also a property of soul. Our hearts can burn, and even our whole being can burn for something. We call this fire LOVE. Love focuses us, shows us what is most important. Where we love, we live fully. Where we love, we heal and transform.

Rudolf Steiner, who dedicated his life and work to the liberation of the human spirit, wrote from his deathbed a kind of last will and testament, saying:

I want with cosmic spirit to enthuse each human being that a flame they may become and fiery will unfold the essence of their being. The other ones, they strive to take from cosmic waters what will extinguish flames and pour paralysis into all inner being. O joy, when the human being’s flame is blazing, even when at rest. O bitter pain, when the human thing is put in bonds, when it wants to stir.

Jesus Christ speaks of the transformation that fire brings when he says in Luke’s Gospel: I came to throw fire upon the earth; how I wish it were already kindled!

The human being is not meant to remain well-behaved and cool. We kindle these flames at the altar in offering that we may call the Holy Spirit down to earth, into our very being, to awaken in the light and be enflamed by the fire of the spirit. We seek to birth the fire of love, which is creative of being, being that carries the seed of the eternal in it. Filled with the Spirit of God, we are to become healing spirits for the earth and all creation.

Christ is also a mother

IMG_0040Today we get to celebrate the Ascension of Christ and Mother’s Day together. A coincidence and yet also not without significance! Mother’s Day is a bit of an arbitrarily generated holiday, but the fact that we all owe our lives to our mothers is not! Recognition of those to whom we owe our birth, our existence, and our becoming can make a holy-day out of any day.

We owe our earthly existence to both mother and father (at least biologically), two parents who bring us into the world through their sacrifice. But it is our mother who welcomes us into her own being and encompasses us even bodily, helps us to identify ourselves with the body that is being made for us in the highest deed of wisdom. It is our mother who nourishes us from inside herself and feels every struggle that we feel as her own while we are in her womb.

In the act of our birth into the world, our mother gives us, through her own pain and suffering, our own independent existence. The best gift we can give in return is to make something of this gift! And to recognize with gratitude the immensity of this offering our mothers have made to our becoming. So to all the mothers out there: thank you!

Christ in his Ascension is also like a mother. Humanity stood at a crossroads oh so long ago; our future ability to incarnate into a body that would allow us to reach our full potential was in jeopardy. He came to the earth to become our helper—not to lead us from without for all eternity, our God-King manifest, but to help us become new human beings, able to reclaim our birthright—those created in the image of God. So that we could be born completely new, he went through death to the resurrection–and after the resurrection, offered up his newly resurrected body to make room for our becoming.

In the Ascension, he takes his offering to a completely new level, and makes of himself a womb for the birth of the new human being. He spreads himself out to encompass heaven and earth, uniting himself completely with us. But like a fetus in the womb, we are almost completely unaware of the being which enfolds us, nourishes us, and calls us forth into a new day. He gives himself freely to all human beings on earth, that we might each awaken in the spirit.

His Ascension is ripening to us gradually. There is a sense deep in the human soul today that something new is possible—that there is more than the world we yet know how to create and inhabit. The human being is restless to be born into our new divine consciousness. The Risen One goes before us—as it says in the Easter epistle: the comforter of our earth existence—and gives to us the possibility that our joy may be made full and complete.

The Act of Consecration describes this in the transubstantiation when Christ tells us: through his deed, Godhead is given again to the human being. We are blessed with a gift that is an invitation to a new life. He bears us into the heavenly, makes himself into a womb for our spiritual becoming, that the heavenly or divine nature of the human being can be born anew in consciousness.

The Risen One goes ahead of us as the whole human being, no longer divided but reunited: mother and father, masculine and feminine, heavenly and earthly, eternal and temporal. The earth is our sacred home for the work of becoming human. He embodies the earth with his spirit, and reunites it with its heavenly purpose and being. May we too ascend and become all we are meant to become!