Conversatio Divina

Fire God

Becky Grisell

Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart. — Psalm 5:3b, The Passion TranslationAll Scripture quotations are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018, 2020 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

01.  Our God is a Fire God

The Creator of the entire cosmos, the Holy, the Divine, is a Fire God. A God who was wrapped in a burning bush and spoke forth from within the fire. A God who guided the children of Israel by a column of fire providing guidance and protection. A God who burned within the disciples’ hearts on the Emmaus Road. A God who came in a flame and alit on the heads of His disciples and burst forth in a Pentecost of burning words. A God who is a refining fire that purifies, who melts and separates the impurities and burns them leaving the true gold of our being intact. A God who manifests in the soft glow of a waning moon, or dazes in the dance of the Northern Lights, or shines like brilliant diamonds on the waters of the Banana River off the dock of my beloved Merritt Island home. We truly have a Fire God.

My only reasonable response is to raise my hands, my unmasked face, and my heart to God in gratitude and worship. To bow in humble service and love, and to come alongside and learn God’s ways as we together co-create goodness and beauty in your world.

02.  Seeing and Seeking the Fire God

Every day, I must take myself outside; there I discover a temple made of trees, leaves, and branches, clouds, stars, and planets. It is always open, every day, every season, in wind and rain, whether sunny or cloudy. Here I find the voice of God, whether or not I listen to His wisdom.Tom Hirons, “The Worship of Place,” Falconer’s Joy (Devon, UK: Hedgespoken Press, 2018), It is within this temple that I find myself and it right sizes me.A wonderfully evocative phrase I heard on the Renovaré podcast Life with God when Nathan Foster interviewed Mark Buchanan, “Walking as a Spiritual Practice,” October 3, 2022, My perspective gets restored. As I turn to notice that Creation sings the Makers presence, my heart begins to warm within, and holy prayer burns forth. A colloquy of prayer becomes a mutual sharing of hearts developing between myself, the creature, and the Creator.

I grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes and snowy, snowy winters. Each year the winter landscape turned into a whitened world. I remember how stillness settled on the earth and a quietness companioned the snow, ushering in a reverent, hushed silence. Within the magic of the snow, silence became my first spiritual teacher. Over the years, silence has taught me about hurry and living an unhurried life.

Silence is my wise and faithful teacher. She teaches me to listen to myself and others. She expresses love. Silence has a strength that is powerful and deep, and I have bound her to my heart. When I seek the Fire God, silence burns away the noise.

The bush burns bright with Holy Presence as I, a Spiritual Director, enter a spiritual direction session. And like Moses, I notice, turn aside, and remove my shoes to bear witness to Divine Mystery—the giving and receiving of God-Self. I place my feet on holy ground, listening with a sacred hallowedness to the mutual sharing of intimate vulnerability between the beloved child and their Beloved Creator. Silence companions this space with a rhythm of generous pauses and an invitation to unhurried conversation. She provides a buffer for the noise and distractions of this world, a respite from the never-ending hamster wheel of doing and producing. Hidden things can find a place to be seen and known. The love of the Creator for the creature interacts with the deep longings of the beloved child, often igniting a mysterious flame of perceiving and being seen.

03.  Welcoming and Consenting to the Fire Go

The mystics say that God has given us two “books” that reveal who God is and what God is about: the Book of Nature (which is the natural world itself) and the Book of Scripture, the Bible. They complement one another; and both Scripture and the natural world reveal God’s truth, as both have God’s hand on and in them. Together, they speak a single truth, and they are, at their deepest level, of one accord.

I have been learning from Lilias Trotter how God imprinted His entire creation with the secrets of the spiritual life. Life choosing to die so that new life can be born. Birth, death, and resurrection in both big and small ways. Like how the beauty revealed in the undoing of summer by the forces of fall instructs us on our own spiritual journey. Or considering how the new leaves grow each year, but only when the past year’s growth is surrendered.Isabella Lilias Trotter (1853–1928) was a British artist and a Protestant missionary to Algeria.

Turn over in your mind the stages of plant growth, its budding and blossoming and seedbearing that demonstrates how death makes space for new life. Death stands at the threshold and becomes a gate of life. Death has a delivering power. Death is a fire which burns away all that no longer fits and no longer belongs, revealing a purity and trueness of who you already are in Christ.

Growing a practice of Consent gives a deeper and greater capacity to unfold and blossom into one’s own unique reflection of the Divine Image. As we consent to the action of the Fire God in our lives, we are transformed into who we already are and were created to be. We unfurl as we consent to Divine Love in our lives. Developing a practice of consent is beyond our “yes.” It is a posture that we inhabit. A posture helps us to embody a value, a priority, and a practice. It enables us to integrate a particular way of considering something or someone. A practice of consent is a posture of living with openness and curiosity, a willingness rather than a willfulness, and a surrender into Divine Love.

How do you respond with consent, like a plant, to death’s delivering power?

As I stand on holy ground in spiritual direction sessions, I notice how light and dark play off each other, creating shadows in the directee’s life. God’s Garden-like Presence and holy silence create a safe container for the intimate play within the shadows to be held. I bear holy witness to people’s perceiving and being seen. Some allow the mysterious shadows to grow and accept with humble vulnerability what is seen and perceived. Some do not.

Some accept the anxiety of feeling themselves in suspense and incompletePierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, “Patient Trust” in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, ed. Michael Harter, SJ (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1993), 102–103. while leaning into the vulnerability of being seen with the loving eyes of the Creator. Like the disciples on the Emmaus Road, their hearts burn for more of God as they encounter the Risen Jesus within their soul and out into their lives.

Others douse the flame of Seeing Love and deeper self-awareness with fear, old stories, reflexive habits, and unhealthy attachments. They feel the heat of the flames of Love but are lured and pulled back by the strength of familiar ground and old ways.

How do you draw near the flame?
How do you hide from it?

04.  Surrounding Ourselves with the Fire God

Pause, take a slow, deep breath. Look up and look around. Relish the silence and feel the warmth of Love radiating from within.

Listen to some of the Cloud of Witnesses that surrounds, whispering with holy breath, holy energy, truths to hold our hearts steady:

St. Ignatius of Loyola mummering, ‘God is found in all things.’
St. Francis of Assisi humming softly, ‘All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.’
Hagar reminding us that we have a God who sees us. We are not alone.
Julian of Norwich breathing gently into our soul, ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’
Moses who helps us to ‘turn aside’ to bear witness to the burning bush that is not consumed.
Jesuit Anthony de Mello chanting, ‘Awareness, awareness, awareness is the key’.
Jacob the Patriarch steadily crooning, ‘Surely God was in this place, surely God is in this place.’
Dallas Willard helping us remember that ‘Grace is not opposed to effort; it’s opposed to earning.’

Our cloud of witnesses situates God’s ever present loving and creating within the immediate contextual realities of human lives. They help us position our daily responses to this ever present, ever loving good God.

Our cloud of witnesses flames the fires of our hearts with love and life, truth and hope. They help to keep our hearts burning with Divine Presence, igniting our interactive, experiential life with God, nurturing a God-given capacity to be transformed into the image of Eternity.

Our cloud of witnesses reminds us that we are not impoverished or left impotent by the reality of our world. The blazing Love of God is seen, known, and glorified.

Who fuels your heart with burning passion and Divine Presence?

05.  Drawing Near to the Flame—Three Small Practices

Cultivate Silence with a Breath Practice:

Take three deep, full breaths, focusing only on your inhales and exhales. This calms the nervous system and creates a space for silence to find a home and inhabit. Consider setting an alarm on your phone at specific times throughout your day to cultivate and grow a breath practice, enlarging the space for silence to do her transforming work. I have found my breath practice to be my most important spiritual practice as it trains my soul in openness and silence, bringing a greater alignment with the God of Fire and a deeper awareness and recognition of my burning heart.

A breath practice gives us a deeper and wider capacity to slow down, to ‘unhurry’ ourselves. To be able to see and perceive what is before and around us.

Grow a Practice of Consent with a simple Examen:

One way to intentionally develop a practice of Consent is to do a mini-examen when you brush your teeth at night. When you brush your upper teeth ask: “In what ways did I consent to Divine Love today?” “When and how did I consent to the action of the Spirit today?” When you brush your lower teeth ask: “In what ways was I willfully not consenting to the action of the Spirit today?” “When and how did I say no to God today?”

Plant a Practice of Beholding:

Beholding is a counter-cultural way of seeing and perceiving. It is taking a long look—a gazing, rather than a glancing or glaring. Beholding is an invitation, or perhaps a call, to a different style of attending that plants wonder and awe in our lives. We grow in our capacity to be present to what is without our filters of preference or scales of judgement. Richard Rohr reminds us that “beholding happens when we stop trying to ‘hold’ and allow ourselves to ‘be held’ by the other. We are completely enchanted by something outside and beyond ourselves.”Richard Rohr, “We Are Called to Behold,” Daily Meditations, The Center for Action and Contemplation, August 16, 2021, adapted from Richard Rohr, Just This (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing: 2017), 99–101,

Choose one of the following ways to behold one thing each day and see what happens:

  • observe a painting
  • gaze at a sunset
  • listen to a child’s laughter
  • see the smile of someone you love
  • notice the way the wind dances in the trees

Allow yourself to loosen the strings of control and be held by a burning bush of Presence.

These three small practices work together, supporting and strengthening each other. They can all grow together in a beautiful harmony of embodiment, awareness, and perception. For example, cultivating a breath practice deepens your capacity to slow down and to notice and gaze upon the burning bushes you encounter each day. This silence and stillness support beholding. Consenting to the Fire God’s loving movement and activity in your life invites curiosity and openness and broadens your awareness for wonder and awe, revealing a space of silence.

Finally, I will leave you with this incident from the early Desert Fathers that has captivated my imagination, as it has so many through the centuries:

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can say, I do my little office, I read my psalms, I fast a little bit, I pray and I meditate, I live in peace with others as far as I can, I purify my thoughts.

“Tell me, Father, what else, what more can I do?”

Then the old man, Abba Joseph, stood up, stretched out his hands toward heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire, and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”

May we become “all flame,” my friends. Let us be enveloped by the flame of Love and become flaming Love.

06.  For Deeper Reflection

Consider this poem by the author of this meditation, Becky Grisell, as a model for writing a prayerful reflection on God’s self-revelation as Fire in your own life, leaning into the offer and invitation of healing and goodness from a Fire God.


like a clock inevitably striking the top of the hour

in the dark before the dawn

i faithfully prepare

my offering and my sacrifice

i carefully arrange the pieces of my life on the altar

creating a masterpiece of glistening colors and shiny veneer

            good works, good words

            pieties, rationales

safe, virtuous, settled

all ardor, pretense, and cover-up

behind gratitude is the sense that You are stingy with me

behind faith comes impatience with You

dark stormy shame

steel gray unfaithfulness

angry crimson selfishness

puke green greed

deliberately tucked elsewhere

hidden and concealed secrets

            shocking and risky

            but so precious to me

bubble wrap secures

illusions and delusions

pride, fear

shame, anger

justifications, excuses

stripping integrity

leading away

weighing down

bending small

keeping holy love at bay

trying to fit You into the God I would rather have

i wait

            somedays gladly

            somedays resentfully

            somedays trepidatiously

entwining heart, life

with you, your purposes

fire falls

flames begin

licking the edges of the altar

lashing against the door of my heart

leaping and lunging unexpectantly

like navy seals on a covert mission

climbing and scaling the walls of my soul

my life

my sacrifice

nothing hidden escapes the flames

nothing concealed withstands the heat

nothing wrapped survives fires love

consuming fire

illusions exposed

delusions bared

consuming fire

you probe, pervade

insisting, demanding, incinerating

i yield


a consuming Love is known

Becky Grisell c2024


Becky Grisell is a contemplative follower of Christ. Her deep childhood Evangelical and Baptist roots have now broadened to include Ignatian, Franciscan, and Celtic spirituality, the Desert Mothers and Fathers, and the ancient mystics. Her passions are God, people, and the intersection between, as well as the Living Word and the Living World. She creates and holds space to come alongside others inviting them to deeply listen to themselves and to God. Becky loves being among the birds and bees, flowers and trees, sky and water. She plants her feet most often in the grasses of South Carolina and loves to hear the laughter and squeals of her three grands, who affectionately call her Bibi (grandma in Swahili).

She received her Spiritual Direction certificate through Portland Seminary and holds a DMIN in Spiritual Formation and Leadership. She is a supervisor for spiritual directors trained through Together in the Mystery; is trained in the Enneagram, and offers Enneagram coaching; and has been trained by the Jesuits in South Africa to companion people though the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises taking great delight in doing so. You can find out more about her at