William Faulkner’sThe Sound and the Fury the main character, Quentin Compson, expresses a desire to go behind the “clean flame.” As his native South evidenced greater and greater decay and his once strong, proud family sunk into profound dysfunction, he longed for katharsis—essentially to be born again. The idea of katharsis—a moment of purification—is significant within the Christian pilgrimage, as we all know. In a recent conversation the question was asked, “So how much healing does a person need?” The only possible answer is, “More.” More healing. More God. More community. More authenticity. More worship. These are the “clean flames” along the journey we have been called into. This quiet trip of the mind’s eye conjured these words from Martin Luther.
This life, therefore, is not righteousness But growth in righteousness; Not healthy, but healing; Not being, but becoming; Not rest; but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, But we are growing toward it; The process is not yet finished But it is going on; This is not the end, But it is the road to glory. All does not yet gleam with glory But all is being purified.
I keep a copy of this in my journal as a reminder that all is being purified. We’re able to see it in the people around us every day. In our small groups and churches. In our relationships. In a sense we’re passing through the clean flame as the minutes and hours and weeks of our lives, also described as “God’s Curriculum of Life,” are put to work for us in the process of becoming whole.
Brian Daniel, editor-in-chief -– For most of my life I have been a huge sports fan—most recently I’ve learned that I can waste a whole weekend on football. But recently God has revealed to me that something I thought was so harmless has been no less an addiction and method of coping and avoidance than some of the worst of social ills that plague us. So I’m doing less of the sports thing. I grew up in Kentucky, but love the mountains of Colorado. That’s where I feel most alive. I’ve come to appreciate relationships more and more, marriage only gets richer and richer, and watching my children move into the teens has been fascinating. These days I long to spend more time with people and would love for life to slow down a little—OK, a lot. It’s a challenge for me to put away the destination for the sake of the journey because my formative years left the metallic taste of malcontent on my heart… but it’s a noble pursuit I intend to continue. The story is the thing.