Holy Fire by Rev. Yanchy Lacska, PhD

Early this morning, as I looked out my home office window, I could see that big ball of fire we call the Sun just clearing the trees toward the East, and I started to think about how The One we call God appears again and again in Biblical stories as fire. In Judaism, the eternal flame, which is lit and kept burning in synagogues, represents the divine presence of God and serves as a reminder of the burning bush that Moses encountered. Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and some Lutheran churches also display a sanctuary lamp with a continuously burning candle reminding those in the church of the presence of Christ. Fire is also often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, representing divine presence, purification, and transformation. John, the cousin of Jesus, tells people, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16)

In the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit appears as a flame that divides and comes to rest above the disciples’ heads on Pentecost. There are many other stories of the Divine appearing as fire in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the sacred writings of other religions.

Recording one of her visions, the twelfth-century saint and mystic Hildegard of Bingen wrote down what she heard: “I, the Highest and Fiery Power, have kindled every spark of life. I, the fiery life of Divine Essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows. I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon, and stars… I remain hidden in every kind of reality as a fiery power” (Vision 1.2).

The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a similar revelation, which she shared in her epic poem, “Aurora Leigh”: Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”

This “fire” is also a part of us. In The Book of Proverbs, it is written that “The soul of the human being is the flame of God” (20:27). Helen Keller recognized this. Perhaps she was more attuned to her inner senses because her outer senses of seeing and hearing were absent. She wrote in her book My Religion, “I feel the flame of eternity in my soul.”

Thomas Merton also shared a vision or moment of awakening that he experienced while on the street of Louisville, Kentucky. He wrote, “Now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

In Chinese philosophy, Shen extends itself through all that exists. The word Shen can be translated in many ways such as “spirit,” “soul,” “God,” and “numinous.” Shen is associated with fire and resides in the heart. Saint Paul also tells us that God’s Spirit resides in our hearts and advises the fledgling Christian community, Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive” (Romans 12:11).

So, how can we keep the divine flame alive in our hearts? One way is through meditation. If you are an early riser, I suggest facing the rising sun and beginning your meditation with a prayer. This one from the Celtic Christian tradition is one of my favorites:

           At the rising of Your sun Lord God, Creator of light,

           At the rising of Your sun each morning, let the greatest of all lights,

           Your love, rise, like the sun, within my heart.

Then, just sit or stand quietly and breathe into your belly. Let the sunlight remind you of the Divine Light all around you and within your heart, and ask this light to lead you throughout the day. Jesus said that we are to let the light of this flame shine forth (Matthew 5:14-16). So, send your light out to those who need healing in the world. My Quaker friend likes to say, I will hold you in the Light.” End your meditation with a prayer. I like this one:

            May the light of God illuminate the heart of my soul.

            May the flame of Christ kindle in me, love.  

            May the fire of the Spirit free me to live fully, this day and forever.


Have a blessed Pentecost.

Rev. Yanchy Lacska, PhD is an Orthodox Catholic priest, an interfaith minister and a Jungian oriented pastoral counselor. He has been a hospital chaplain, a college professor, psychotherapist, and has taught qigong for 20 years.


  1. Donna Leonard on May 18, 2024 at 12:54 pm

    Thoughts I needed today. Thank you, Dawn.