This is what happens when the fireball in the sky lands in your dream and you have to listen to its flames and have to make sense of the blazing language that climbs up on your tongue and starts it wagging. A light gets turned on. All those dark nights turn into summer and you begin to see why the shadows confused you. The fireball doesn’t have to be enormous, it just have to be hot. Given the nature of fire you know that it is. You know it can burn you but it won’t. This kind of fire only burns things that aren’t needed. Things like shame or fear or regret. Things like “I wish I had not…, I should have… I missed out on….” Once the fireball lands you’ll be like those crazy people in Acts who knew about love. You’ll stop being cold, you’ll think about winter and how it won’t ever freeze you. You’ll realize how ridiculous it is to bundle up your desire. You’ll begin to yearn and stop caring about what is missing and why you can’t have it. You’ll start telling the truth and feel the fire warm you on the inside where snow used to camp. You’ll act a little crazy when the fireball lands but it will be the kind of crazy that makes sanity jealous. People will circle around just to stay warm and you won’t run out of blankets. I think the fireball was never meant to hide in the sky. I think it was meant to hide in you and me. It was meant to cause an uproar. To wake us up. To keep us hopping. To make us lie still. To undo us, to put us back together. All of this. All of that. The whole thing is ours. Its fire and its God and it is crazy and its good and now we can fan the flames and let it burn. Good morning.
When I was in Puerto Rico, author Mayra Santos-Fibros talked about the practice of setting out a meal for the dead. I was surprised at the practice and wasn’t tempted to follow it, but it did bring to mind the Hebrews 12 reference of “being surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” When I mentioned this scripture to her we found common ground between her work and mine. Since then I’ve been wanting to paint that unseen realm. Because we have all experienced some kind of marginalization, gross misunderstandings or heartache, I wanted this central character to reflect internationally “eclectic” features. Remembering the “great cloud of witnesses” turns my focus to the larger life and reminds me I am not alone.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” Hebrews 12:1-3The Message (MSG)