Prescription for Pentecost

by Paul Hooker

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
with all thy quickening powers;
kindle a flame of sacred love
in these cold hearts of ours.
Isaac Watts, 1707

In a dry season,
when wildfires get out of control
the forest service starts forest fires—
prescribed burns, they call them.
Firefighters dribble burning diesel
from drip torches; bits of gooey blaze
set fire to the litter along the road.
It burns away the underbrush
and clears the ground of fuel,
so seeds beneath can push their way
to light and greening life.
A good burn can save a forest.

A dry season is upon us.
This day is a prescription for a burn.
a little of the spirit’s fire
dribbled into the detritus
of our prayers
might clear away our desiccated piety.
What matter if a few doctrinal trunks
get scorched,
if custom’s self-protective bark
gets burned away?
Of course, at any time, a fire
can get out of control,
climb into the canopy and crown,
and the whole forest burns
and all is lost.
Who knows? Maybe it will.
Those who lose will save,
and a good burn can save a faith.

© 2017 Paul Hooker