Hypnotized by the flames, Fiona feels a strange compulsion to draw nearer. The massive fire burns brightly but remains in one place and doesn’t spread. Somehow, she knows it is God’s fire. She feels the intense heat, hears the roaring flames, and whispers under her breath, “This fire is a consuming one and will burn up everything put into it!”
Fiona looks down at her filthy, ragged clothing. Disgust and shame fill her thoughts. “How could I NOT have noticed before?” she mourns. Although this is what she always wore on stage as a dancer, in that moment she knows she is wearing the thread-bare clothing of performance. The tacky sequins, low-cut blouse, ripped and skin-tight pants — all of them smelling of cigarette smoke — make her nauseous. She used to think they were the sharpest, sophisticated attire, but now she sees them for what they are — nothing but rags. All her need to look good, do good, be good, and to be noticed has exhausted her. Looking up, she exclaims, “This need to look good is just like these filthy rags and will be burned up by consuming fire in the final day. But I want them gone NOW…and I will gladly watch them burn!”
She can’t rip the clothes off quickly enough. Taking a step back from the flames, Fiona flings them in and watches as the fiery inferno devours them.
“What am I going to wear now?” she moans. “Where can I find clothes out here in this wasteland?” Suddenly Fiona is aware of someone watching her. Spinning around, she sees a man dressed in white, so blinding she squints her eyes. “Who ARE you and what are you doing here?” she gasps.
“I am Joshua, a fire keeper of the Messiah,” he explains. “I’ve brought you new clothing.”
He holds out a white linen gown embroidered with the finest, intricate details. Leaves of gold are interwoven throughout the garment and glimmer with each movement, so much so that it seems alive! Even the buttons appear as tiny faces on the gown.
“Try it on!” laughs Joshua. The gown giggles and the buttons smile along.
Fiona takes a few tentative steps toward the massive angel and holds out her arms. The garment tumbles into them, and she hugs it tightly to her trembling frame. Slipping it on, Fiona is wrapped in the tightest hug she has ever experienced. The gown seems to have been made just for her.
For the first time in the young girl’s life, Fiona feels dignified and honored — nothing like she felt after her stage performances, even with the crowd’s accolades. Her compelling need to look amazing and be applauded seems to evaporate with the devouring flames.
“Those clothes are fitting for you,” booms Joshua. “Your Father has made you beautiful and brave. A forerunner and trail blazer, you are! You will continue to advance and move forward. You will not turn back to this place. The fire has moved, and you are moving with it.”
And the girl and the gown quiver with anticipation as they twirl and dance toward the distant mountains — not knowing, not caring who is watching.
~ Janet Mueller, writer
~ Deana Harvey, painter