Sacred Signs: The Flame

Authored by Romano Guardini in Issue #31.4 of The Sower

You go for a walk in the country late on an autumn evening. All around you is dark and cold. The soul feels quite alone in the dead space. Its desires for the living seeks all round, but nothing responds. The leafless tree, the cold hillside, the empty plain – all is dead! The soul is the only living thing in the wilderness. Then, suddenly, at a turn in the road, a light shines forth – Does it not call across to us? As if in answer to the seeking of the soul? As if something expected, something fitting?

Or you sit late in a darkening room. The walls stand grey and indifferent, the furniture is dumb. Then there comes a well-known step; a skilful hand applies a match to the fire; there is a crackling; a flame leaps up; and a red glow fills the room, and a cheerful warmth flows towards you. How everything is transformed! Everything has received a soul – as when a lifeless face suddenly becomes lit up with a friendly life.

Yes, fire is near akin to living. It is the purest symbol of our living soul, an image of all that we experience in our inner life, warm and shining, ever in motion, ever striving upwards.

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