The Purpose

What is “FIRE in my Heart” all about?  As a writer, I have used left-brain research, analysis, and organization to great advantage and success. Now I am exploring whether I can be vulnerable enough to open my heart and share the Fire of encounters with God that began in intensity after a series of medical crises in 1995.

I discovered that there seemed to be no common English word to describe an unexpected, positive experience that seems to be beyond the ordinary — an experience, perhaps, of God.  The words I found in the dictionary were things like “weird, eerie, spooky, supernatural, mysterious, uncanny, unearthly, unnatural, ghostly” — words we either don’t believe in or that frighten us.

So, the best analogy I could come up with from everyday life is what I call the “startle response.”  Think about the startle response in infants — they respond with their whole bodies to unexpected stimulation, whether that be a noise, a touch, or whatever.  Think, too, about the startle responses you have experienced as an adult — waking with a start, perhaps, or being startled in your whole physical being by a loving touch, or in your whole inner being by a totally unexpected act of caring or kindness. Often God’s quiet claim and presence have caused a startle response in me — or simply a feeling of wonder and amazement.

Think about the startle moments in your own life – moments when you wondered – because you felt it was God and you wanted to believe… But it was so quiet – and there’s no English word for it…. so you were afraid to trust it!

The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences and look at everyday life from that perspective. I invite your response from your own vulnerability. Perhaps you are braver than I in sharing, or perhaps my experiences can encourage you to recognize similar ones in your own life.

The Person

Nancy Smith has 20 years’ experience in technical writing and management in software companies. She also has more than 20 years in Christian ministry as an educator, course designer, retreat leader, author, spiritual director, pastor, and coach. A United Methodist Deacon, Smith has her M.Div. from Boston University. She is a graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, and is certified in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Leadership from Boston College. She is the author of Workplace Spirituality: A Complete Guide for Business Leaders (Axial Age Publishing, 2006)


2 Responses to About

  1. Lori says:

    I live in world coming from a right-brained perspective; I’ve understood these moments as John Wesley described his “heart being strangely warmed”. It happened yesterday when my three year old granddaughter looked at a Black-eyed Susan and said, “I see God.” Or last week when a fawn lay down by my garden as I was weeding. (The doe stayed behind the shrubs on the tree line.) The ‘fire’ you speak of is passion, a passion that sometimes scares us (especially in New England); and maybe it does so, because on some deeper level, it brings us face to face with our own mortality, our limited abilities, and ultimately it humbles us. But it isn’t startling because I also see these moments as truth… when the embers burn and ignite to reveal some greater mystery, an “Ah-ha” moment.
    Babies startle because they don’t yet have a base of knowledge; everything is new and everything is then categorized for future experience. They are in a pure state of being. Adults are quite the opposite and for many there needs to be a return to that first innocence – shed the cynicism, distrust, whatever it is that get’s in our way of perceiving the mysteries of God so that we are able to experience more of the fire or passion. If we are just copying or repeating what always been done before we aren’t leaving ourselves open to the creative expression of God or creative experience with God. Maybe the best dictionary definition is ‘mysterious’ – the mystery of God, from God, that IS God. My response to these moments can only be to say ‘Thank You’ and then just be present to the moment to experience the joy.

    As an afterthought – Noah Webster was an educator who left us a compendium of the English language that was intended to be secular. His faith, by his own accounting, did not develop until later in his life. .

    Nancy, Thanks for the opportunity to think more about this.

  2. Cheryln says:

    May you receive great blessings as you open yourself, and encourage others to open, to God’s deepest mysteries and presence. Yoyr sister deacon in Christ.

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