Proximity November 2016
Sitting around a campfire I find myself in a comfortable, yet somewhat primitive, glow of fellowship. The flames provide visible light, auditory crackling logs, a touch of heat, and the smell of the smoke and the wood. The only one of the senses which is missing, taste, is a void which is quickly filled. A s’more, or the less complicated toasted marshmallow, brings the fifth sense into my consciousness. Now the experience is complete.
Part of the intimacy is supplied by the boundary of the light. I don’t have to move very far from the fire to undergo a very substantial change in my attitude toward all that was happening when I was closer to it. Now I can see very little. My friends are not close, and I must be alert to things which are less comfortable. Exposed now to nature, I may trip over something in the dark or find myself face to face with another less-forgiving species than those I left in the relaxed hearth where all seemed to be known and understood.
Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin, reminds me of the covenant which the Jews had with the One God. A pillar of fire guided them, and they only moved when it did. It was a very physical thing, which when they walked out of its light, became a “missed” object, and certainly a time of confusion would set in. They knew physically they had moved away from God, and emotions quickly told them that they had left something preciously supportive.
With us, when we move out of God’s will, His presence from our perspective becomes less. Quite literally we have turned our back on all that is His warming fire, in order to go our own way in a dark world. We give up far more doing so, than the “freedom” provides us in our search for meaning. God gives us everything, satisfying all of our needs and senses, when we just stay close to Him in the light of His presence.