Fireworks: A lived out prayer of illumination

Two weeks ago today I was in Nashville for the Festival of Homiletics. It was an incredible week, made all the more incredible by the experiences of reuniting with seminary friends, meeting my cousin’s children for the first time, and seeing my dear friend Sarah preach in her new church. I met with my spiritual director on Wednesday of this week and was trying to explain to her this amazing feeling of spiritual wholeness that I felt that week.

Evan

Meeting Evan

Melora

Meme and Me! (wearing the cupcake hat I knit for her)

The best I could explain to her was by sharing with her the story of coming into the city of Chattanooga with Patricia after meeting my cousin’s children: We were rounding a corner downtown and I was telling her how extremely blessed and full of joy I felt after such a week and then there in the sky all of a sudden were fireworks bursting across the sky. Though I know they were for the baseball game that had finished a few minutes prior, they felt like a physical manifestation of my own joy. Fireworks. Bright, unignorably celebratory lights flashing across the sky. A monumental sort of thing that must be experienced and cannot be contained.

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Then, also on Wednesday I received the latest installment of the Atlas Project from my favorite band, Sleeping at Last. As they so often speak to my heart and experience, I was only slightly surprised by a new song on there called, “In the Embers,” about fireworks:

We live and we die
Like fireworks,
Our legacies hide
in the embers.
May our stories catch fire
and burn bright enough to catch God’s eye.
we live and we die

Like fireworks we pull apart the dark,
Compete against the stars with all of our hearts.
‘Til our temporary brilliance turns to ash,
We pull apart the darkness while we can.

May we live and die
A valorous life,
May we write it all down
In cursive light,
So we pray we were made
in the image of a figure eight,
May we life and die

Like fireworks we pull apart the dark,
Compete against the stars with all of our hearts.
‘Til our temporary brilliance turns to ash,
We pull apart the darkness while we can.

This Festival of Homiletics, this time of great speakers and deep worship for me felt like an experience of “stories catch[ing] fire and burn[ing] bright enough to catch God’s eye.”

It is my prayer that this might be the experience of all worship of all preaching. Perhaps my prayers of illumination should revise Psalm 19:14 to say, “may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts catch fire and burn bright enough to catch God’s eye.” Amen.

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4 thoughts on “Fireworks: A lived out prayer of illumination

  1. I was in Nicaragua last spring, and happened to be in the doorway of a church during evening mass. During the long prayer, when the priest got to the “Holy, Holy, Holy” part – where it says we join with the angels in heaven singing praises, three young men appeared in the courtyard outside and began setting off giant roman candles. I was so awesome to have heaven resounding at the same time as the people were praying. (Or maybe, someone told me, it was to wake the angels up so they could join in the song.) Anyway. I love fireworks, too and it was a holy moment for me.

  2. I love that!

    I forgot to add that as I was meeting with my spiritual director we were having a rather rough thunderstorm. Though it was a scary thing to drive in, the natural firework show happening outside added a beautiful sort of intensity to thinking about the bigness and greatness of God echoing in the heavens.

  3. Hello Kathleen:
    I love this song and I’m translating the lyric into Chinese. But I don’t understand “in the image of a figure eight”. What does ‘figure eight’ mean here? Besides, is ‘cursive light’ a kind of font? Hope for your reply.

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