Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Miracle of the Holy Fire

The Miracle of the Holy Fire by William Holman Hunt

The artist painted and painted. Each stroke was an attack on all he did not believe. She asked him why he was doing it, but he did not know. She believed fire could come from anywhere, even God, and it wasn't important to her to know where these flames originated. What she did want to know from the faithful was just this: 

Do you believe?

They entered into the experience, with all of its whirlwind of activity. Some would say confusion, others would call it exuberance. There was a skeptic nearby, spouting nonsense. She was familiar enough with nonsense to translate it into English for the artist. But he had understood it fully. He wanted to stay and talk with the naysayer, but she urged him further into the crowd. No sense in spending any more time with a mocker or joining him, or they'd begin speaking nonsense too.

She was looking into the eyes of anyone who would let her. The celebrants were a mass of languages and cultures, all twirling in their own way, speaking many words or many tongues, or singing with abandon. They chanted and exclaimed and let her know, and him, how they felt. 

An old man caught her by the arm. He stared into her eyes. What did not occur to her at first was why. He was looking for something too. He asked her, "What do you believe?"

She quietly said something poetic, metaphoric, and flowery, realizing too late she was speaking beautiful nonsense to someone who knew better.

The man rolled his eyes. 

"No need for poetry here, Love. Just speak your mind," he said.

She was intimidated. Embarrassed. Unsure of how to plainly speak her mind. She was accustomed to hidden words. She was fully willing to whisper the truth, but he had asked her to say it like she was talking to someone. To him. It made her uncomfortable.

He pointed to the flame that had been carried in from some mysterious origin.

"What does this mean to you?" He asked.

She told him it means symbolism. It means you can hold the presence of God in your hand. It means this is how you draw Him close. She shrugged, not sure if that was really what she meant.

He smiled again, kindly this time, "It is the other way around. He draws you close. That's what He did for me. And that's why 
you're here. Your question is not 'What do you believe?' but 
'Did He reach you?' "

She began to weep.

"Yes," the old man said, "He did."


  1. Nie zrozumiałam wiele z tłumaczenia na język polski, więc poszukałam w internecie informacji na temat Świętego Ognia.
    Serdecznie pozdrawiam.

    1. Dzięki, Anna. Nie słyszałem o tym do samego zeszłego tygodnia. Kościół, do którego chodzę, nie jest prawosławny, więc nie jest to jedna z naszych tradycji. Musiałem też to sprawdzić. Cieszę się, że nie jestem jedyny!

      Thanks, Anna. I had not heard of this until last week myself. The church I go to is not Orthodox, so it is not one of our traditions. I had to look it up too. Glad I am not the only one!

  2. A miracle that repeats itself for 2000 years.

  3. Never saw this painting or heard this story before. So glad you shared Sandi. Hope you are having a great week. Hugs!

  4. I was impressed by the painting with its vivid colours, so I looked it up in the Wikipedia. They say the painter believed the miracle of the holy fire was a kind of religious fraud, and that he intended the painting to be a satire of the holy fire ceremony.

    The fact is that all those who believed it was a fraud were confronted over the years with verystrong testimonies that pointed out at the exact contrary.

  5. Beautiful painting and story. Thank you for this.

  6. Creatively done. I couldn't recall the artist's name, but our Gallery has a couple of his works, at least.

  7. Wow what detail in the painting.

  8. Wonderful story, Sandi! I enjoyed reading it so much.
    And I love the painting!

  9. I have not heard this before. Compelling.

  10. Blessed that he draws us close! Lovely.

  11. Hi Sandie! As far as I can tell, they just put a few letters there at random. The first few do look like HOP. Thanks for asking!

  12. Ah...He draws US close...that is beautiful indeed...He places that longing in our hearts to draw closer to His holy flame of love, hope, and pure joy...peace...Wow! I never heard of this particular painting or story before, but I love it as you have explained it. Thank you, Sandi. Always something to learn here.

  13. touching and sublime writing my friend!
    agreed to each bit of it