Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tending to the Spark of Life

I feel as if I were the guardian of a precious slice of life with all the responsibility that entails. There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze.  ~ Etty Hillesum

Joyce Rupp introduced me to Etty in The Cup of Life, at the time I was struck by her story as I Goggled to learn more.  This morning, again, I was struggling to take the time to sit down, to be still......... And I was reintroduced to Etty.

God, Macrina's meditation on Etty's thought struck my heart, yet my heart remains clueless of how to begin. There is not a single song that comes to mind as I sit with my blanks. Still, I will go through the motions, but I need some guidance from you this morning! I need some direction as I go to Youtube...Lord, I need a song to get the blood pumping because coffee just isn't doing the trick. AMEN!

Everything I Need by Kutless

Would you believe, I prayed that prayer, opened Youtube and saw this song, listed as the first choice AND I nearly ignored it! I'm not that familiar with Kutless and I saw other artists I recognized.  I almost clicked on something by Mercy Me...and I stopped.

"Would it be possible that God actually is listening and gave me that song?"


"Can you be sure?"

: ) I moved the cursor back to the first song and clicked on to it...and felt as though I was given a gift.

I love this chapter 7 in A Tree Full of Angels.  I love how Macrina is taking sentences from a book or a single verse of a poem and uses them to discover Truth. Again, she is giving me permission to do the very thing that seems to happen so naturally, yet I often discredit the gift because it didn't come from Scripture of some spiritual teacher.

Using the practice of Lectio Divina, Macrina focuses on one sentence from Etty's diaries and then narrows her focus to just a few words, " keep the spark of life inside me ablaze!"
"What a precious responsibility! I had never thought of it quite like that before...But why not? If the spark of life in me is ablaze, that means I am full of enthusiasm, and to be full of enthusiasm means to be possessed with God." (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 91)
Reading about Etty's life makes this insight even more soul shattering. Etty was a Jewish woman who lived in the Netherlands during the days of the Holocaust.  However, her writings reach across any boundary religion might impose. She journaled of her questions, her doubts, the things she discovered about human kind... She journaled about God and his presence midst such atrocities. Through her journaling she recognized the importance of "keeping the spark of life inside me ablaze."

Macrina writes: "...convinces me of an amazing inner strength we all possess. Have we ever met our inner strength? Do we know the secret of connecting with it? What do we do with the slice of life that has been entrusted to our care?" 

Yesterday I journaled about recognizing I am on Holy Ground...what ever I am doing, I am on Holy Ground! To recognize that with each footstep I take, I can strive to leave a blessing. (The Cup of Life) but, then this morning...I'm feeling a bit of apathy!

Again, I turned to Goggle Images and searched for an image of Inner Strength. I was surprised by some of the results, but the charcoal drawing of the lion, stopped my fingers.

Looking at this lion I remembered The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and the lion, Aslan. Aslan wasn't visibly present very much, yet the children mention him while they continue to fight battles.

Etty had her battle of hatred, death, fear... and within these battles, she knew she must keep the spark of life inside her ablaze. As I have walked along my garden, along the beautiful field of is easy to see God.  It is easy to keep that spark of life within me ablaze.  I wonder if I would have had the same fortitude to keep that spark alive in the conditions Etty lived?

Then, as I sit feeling a bit blah this morning, Macrina reminds me that I too live within a battle zone, it is just that the war going on around me are more subtle but just as harmful.

"There is the danger of apathy and complacency, living my life overly satisfied with things as they are. I have an amazing ability, at times to settle for shallow living...There is the danger of blindness, not seeing with my inner eye. How harmful it is for me to see only that which does not threaten me. Yet how often I refuse to look at the very things that would call me out of my frigid safety...the danger of negativism, becoming overly critical of every little fault. It is like being a living no to life's possibilities. All of these dangers eat away at me a little more each day, making the flame that I am a little dimmer." (Wiederkehr, p 92)
Maybe the images I discovered when I searched for inner strength were not that far off.  Just as it takes time and intention and TRAINING to build physical muscles and to keep them strong and firm, it takes time, intention, and TRAINING to develop my inner keep the spark of life within me ablaze.

The children in Chronicles of Narnia, did not just sit, waiting for Aslan to take care of them.  They were active.

Etty, in the midst of horrors I cannot imagine, did not just sit down and die.  She journaled, she cared for others while asking hard questions of God...and she determined it was up to her to keep the spark of life ablaze.

Kutlass expressed it..."When life is a mountain, you carry me...You are strength in my weakness...You're everything I need..." 

Spiritual Practices are the training weights to build my inner keep the spark ablaze, so that I know to call out to Jesus...because as I tend to that spark of life within me....I depend upon His strength more rather than my own ego in the "war zone" that surrounds me, that, as Macrina reminds me, is just as harmful as the war that surrounded Etty.

God, forgive me when I feel complacent and even a bit bored. Help me to stick to a regime of practice that builds my inner strength...which is is my CONNECTION with You that is kept ablaze as I read, journal, sit still, pray...Spirit, thank you for the kick in the butt this morning! AMEN.


Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. Nice!!
    Keep it up!
    I'm always here to support you.

  2. I needed the reminder to tend the spark - in all aspects of life.