Mind and Soul Ablaze

The Fire of Commitment, part 2

Let's unpack Rev. Mary Katherine Morn's lines in our hymn, "Fire of Commitment."
From the light of days remembered burns a beacon bright and clear.
Days remembered: we arrive at our commitments bringing our pasts with us, bringing all that has shaped us and made us who we are. Every person’s promise is thus unique. No matter how many people may utter the same words of a vow, the meaning of that vow is as individual as the people making it, for each is bringing to the commitment all the light of their days remembered, all of who they are. And that light shines as a beacon showing them the way to the new freedoms they will enter by their commitment.
Guiding hands and hearts and spirits into faith set free from fear.
Fear. Yes, with that word “fear,” Rev. Morn put her finger on why it is that our own wants, if not tempered with a grander commitment beyond to something more than ourselves, can be so oppressive and tyrannical. Our individual wants, left to their own devices, devolve into preoccupations with what we’re afraid of.

“I want to make sure I’m safe from this, . . . and this . . . and this” can become the dominant thought. But as the commitment of the soldier allows her to march straight into the face of fear and therefore to transcend fear, so, too our commitments, including our faith commitments, at their best, bring us out of ourselves and out of our fears.

The second verse echoes the theme:
From the stories of our living rings a song both brave and free.
From the stories of our living: it comes from our past, our history, the tale of who we are – individually and collectively. These are stories that contain within them the truth of our courage, our bravery, thus our capacity to commit to what connects us to others and to something bigger that our fears.
Calling pilgrims still to witness to the life of liberty.
Yes, the journey of your commitment, discovering as you go the surprising things that it asks of you, the surprising person that it makes you into – that journey is indeed a pilgrimage, a voyage to the holy beyond your power to articulate or predict. And in that pilgrimage is your witness.

Freedom is never solitary. As Rosa Parks said, “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free so other people would be also free.” The life of freedom opened up by our commitments always show others how it is done. We have learned, and still learn from others what freedom looks like, even as we also witness to others, intentionally or unintentionally, the life of liberty.
From the dreams of youthful vision comes a new prophetic voice.
Again, our past is the necessary soil from which the new sprout of commitment emerges. But the new prophetic voice we discover coming out of own mouths is never quite what our youthful vision imagined.

For freedom is not the same as power. Power as, Harriet Rubin said, is about control, and freedom is about unleashing.

There is within you a new prophetic voice, and you don’t know what it will say. In the freedom created through commitment, it will be unleashed, and what you hear yourself saying is likely to be as much a surprise to you as to anyone else.

The ancient Hebrew people were expressing this sense of unleashing without controlling when they conceived of the prophets in their scripture as mouthpieces of God. They weren’t choosing or controlling what to say, but were unleashing something beyond them – something
which demands a deeper justice built by our courageous choice.
The commitment is to keep choosing that which we do not choose – to choose to accept and embrace what we did not make, did not ask for, would never have thought to ask for, yet which imbues our lives with purpose and meaning.
When the fire of commitment sets our mind and soul ablaze --
When our hunger and our passion meet to call us on our way –
When we live with deep assurance of the flame that burns within,
Then our promise finds fulfillment, and our future can begin.
Our commitments really do make us new, make us into something different, larger, connected, whole. A commitment opens up a whole new world.

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This is part 2 of 2 of "The Fire of Commitment"
See also
Part 1: Commit

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