My son and I subscribe to Discover magazine. The subscription is, in truth, in my son’s name, but I have enjoyed it equally if not more! Recently, I was reading the Jan/Feb 2013 issue’s “20 Things You Didn’t Know About Inner Earth,” by, Rebecca Coffey. This last article of the magazine I always find fascinating, and this was no exception. Here are two facts I did not know: “ The inner core is nearly as hot as the surface of the sun, and the pressure down there is 3 million times what it is on the surface.  Earth’s solid and liquid cores together generate the magnetic field that keeps the solar wind—a nonstop, 250-mile-per second stream of charged particles emitted by the sun—from stripping away our atmosphere.”
It struck me as a beautiful metaphor for the effects of entering and dwelling in the inner mansion of St. Theresa’s, Interior Castle. The journey to move through the interior mansions is one of purification. That is, when events of life jab and prod relentless, impelling one to plaster over protective layer after layer until the true person within is no longer recognizable. Nothing else protects and the crust hardens and cracks leaving one more vulnerable than before. But when the inner journey is made in stillness and quiet and the scorpions and snakes that invade the outer mansions are no longer within reach to torment, the encrusted outer pieces slough off, the pain of it less relevant. In the quiet center of the soul is the consuming fire that is not consumed, just as the bush communed with Moses. The light burns still brighter with each advance toward that place in the very center of ones being, and the power to generate a magnetic field about us can withstand the nonstop, 150-mile-per second stream of charged particles that circumstances often seem to whip at us. It is a mystery. It is the apparent dichotomy of God’s tabernacling on us, that a consuming fire that is not consumed will dwell with us and generate a shield about us for protection against the radioactive fire without.
Still, for some reason I resist. Why would I turn from this light that produces such power and try to put on layers for all to see whom I think others want to see—or I think I would like to be? It is not so much a question of identity. It is a question of control. I do not lose who I am most truly—indeed, I am even more of who I truly am—when I abandon my efforts to create an image. To dwell in the center with that consuming fire that is not consumed (and, of course, that fire’s fuel is Love) is a quiet act, one of stillness. Being. And, giving up control. Henri Nouwen has this beautiful reflection: “To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our own imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future, letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”
I have harmed others with acts of control. Others have harmed me with the same. But none is more harmed than me when I take that control, because in doing so I become less of me. And there is something so appealing about the thought that the power in me could generate a magnetic field! Sci-Fi novels have nothing on this! Then who I am most truly and its beauty can be seen and unharmed by those charged particles whipping and whirling around it. I want to see your beauty as you truly are and know that it will not be harmed. Imagine the magnetic field that could be produced when still more of us are centered with the One who Loves us with a consuming fire that is not consumed! Imagine that it covers and protects some who have not had the courage yet, but by our standing with them might have relief enough to enter in, journey to that interior mansion and commune with the consuming fire that is not consumed….