Several mythologies – including the Greek, Phoenician, and Egyptian – have provided us with the enigmatic image of the Phoenix, or sacred firebird. In appearance, it boasts a regal array of colors in its plumage. Nearing the end of its 500 year life-cycle, it configures myrrh twigs into a nest that it then ignites. Despite that the consuming fire has reduced all to ashes, a young phoenix (or phoenix egg) is reborn to rise anew, living as long as its old self. Some myths even claim that the new phoenix uses an egg made out of myrrh to embalm the ashes of its former self and carries it off to the Egyptian city of Heliopolis (sun city in Greek).
Beyond the beauty of the bird, this myth bears greater relevance still when considering the Christian typology it is laced with. For the follower of Christ, the resplendent image of this sacred bird rising from the ashes reminds us of His victory over death and sin. The image also lends itself to be applied to our faith walk, in terms of “dying to our former self” and “Christ making all things new”. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he stated, “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Two chapters later in Romans, Paul also provides an eternal perspective on suffering, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” All things have a purpose, and there is purpose in all things.
A dear friend of mine always reminds me that “the Lord does not tear down without restoring”. This promise is one that causes me hold fast in a time filled with what I will henceforth call The ‘S’ Trifecta – Sacrificial love, Suffering, and Surrender. You’ve heard of a colon cleanse? The ‘S’ Trifecta has a similar effect on your soul in that it flushes out the impurities. The old Steubenville adage of “hard but good” that we tossed around back in my University days is readily applied to the process involved with the “Soul Cleanse”. Delaying it or fighting against it only creates further issues, as you must let the cleanse run its course in order to reap its benefits. The choicest of blessings often awaits for those willing to endure what the Trifecta reveals and the cleanse purges. The combination of patience, perseverance and determination teamed with fully relying on God’s grace are the keys that unlock The ‘S’ Trifecta. For a Catholic, the richness gained from participating in the Sacramental Life of the Church also provides strength and solace.
With my cleanse currently underway, I was reminded of a poem I wrote during another difficult time. Without further ado, I share with you…
The Hymn of the Phoenix
In searing embers I lie and wait,
To be consumed by the fire that bore me.
Set ablaze to bear new life,
Arising from darkness, like the Morning Star.
Burning blackness confines once scarlet wings,
Returning to the dust from which I came,
So that I may know as I was known.
The soot of former things begins to drift,
As my life fades, so do the wounds I carried.
No longer the sting of that Judas’ arrow,
What remains is my triumph o’er his snare.
Ashes to ashes, fresh wings now bring me home,
Fading the soft blue I once glided upon.
I am the burnt offering so another may take flight,
And lay me down in the City of the Sun.
Departing amidst the flickering flames.
My heart nearly dares to whisper,
“Come sweet redemption, come,”
As I am carried off into the Eternal Light.
I also love this song, the movie “The Prince of Egypt” that it was in, as well as the video. Very inspirational and uplifting, even though it cuts off at the end 😦