Pillar of Fire

There in the distance, it’s a pillar of fire

Rumbling like thunder in a dream…

pilar of fire_resizedThis photo came to me a few weeks ago.  I say “came to me” rather than “I took” of the photo because of the self-focused agency the latter phrase implies.  I was just playing with a technique (upward panning of a candle’s flame in this case).  The resulting image, with its patina of copper, indigo, and gold, is a gift. A gift I get to share.

As I’ve reflected on this image, this pillar of fire, I’ve thought back to how God led Israel with a warm wildness, and how centuries later, He–the Counselor–came again to men.  This time He did not visibly manifest His presence as one pillar.  Rather, that pillar dispersed, refracted, into tongues as of fire showing His presence. Where once a tribe was led from captivity to a land of promise, now sons and daughters from a multitude of nations are daily led closer Home.

I struggle to verbally express the immediacy and depth of this presence figured in the image above. This song, though, has come to mind frequently over the last week, providing expression to what I cannot speak on my own:.

There, in the distance, it’s a pillar of fire
Rumbling like thunder in a dream
It roars among the pines along the line
Of the great Mississippi

It scatters all the cattle, and rattles the leaves
It skids across the prairie by the moon
It sings like a choir, this pillar of fire
And the name of God is the burning tune

[chorus]

I can see it whirling, swirling,
Spinning all around
Onward and upward and homeward bound
Oh, Jesus, lead me through the night,
Pillar of Fire

On through the passes of the mountains it goes
As bouldered and broken as my heart
I shiver and cry and I watch as it winds down
To the deepest and the darkest parts

Where, Oh Lord, are you leading?
I can get so scared in the night
My feet are cut and bleeding
With every step I feel less alive

Oh, but Pillar of Fire, you blazed that trail
You’ve been there every step along that road
From a barn in Bethlehem to Hell and back again
You blazed the trail that leads me home

Always whirling, swirling,
And spinning all around
Onward and upward, now homeward bound
Oh, Jesus, hold me through the night,
Pillar of Fire

Oh now to the ocean I follow it down
Where it sizzles and boils in the waves along the sound
Oh, Jesus, lead me to the shore
Pillar of Fire

 

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