Utah's "Interfaith Week" will finish strong tomorrow night with a 7:30 p.m. concert in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.

And all those who tuned into the week's events must be feeling encouraged. Hands have been extended. Hearts touched.

People of faith, it seems, long to connect.

That's why, I suppose, the image that stays with me from the week is a little piece of "Fridge Art" for kids — a simple drawing of a flame — I saw on the Web site of the Domestic Church.

There are so many religious symbols today — crosses, six-pointed stars, five-pointed stars, crescent moons — that finding a universal "interfaith" symbol is difficult.

But I think the image of a flame fills the bill.

The tall, pointed miter worn by the pope symbolizes the flames above the heads of the apostles on the day of Pentecost.

The Jews speak of the burning bush. The LDS faithful sing, "The Spirit of God like a fire is burning." Many Protestant churches feature candles in their services.

In each case, the flame represents the presence and power of the spirit of God.

And it makes for a perfect interfaith logo.

I'm one who believes that not only are people more alike than different, but religions are more alike than different. And the flame represents all those spiritual things that denominations have in common.

A flame is warm. It takes the chill from the bones and invites intimacy and sharing.

It gives light. A flame helps us to see, to distinguish things that otherwise would blend together in the shadows.

A flame can be kindled anywhere. If it's 50 below zero, a match can still be lit. In the darkest dungeon and the darkest heart, a celestial flame can still be ignited.

Flames seem to appear from out of nowhere. If the right elements are present, a flame occurs. So with the spirit.

When nurtured properly, a flame will grow and expand. It becomes stronger and brighter when handled correctly.

And finally, a flame can never fully be tamed. It can only be "housed." By the same token, a spiritual flame can never be tamed, but it can always find a home within a church, a mosque and within the human heart.

As with knives, flames can be used for good or ill. They can heal, and they can also hurt.

At times, especially in Old Testament times, flames were consuming fires.

In modern times, the flame is more often a symbol of consuming love. The flame unites. Think of the Olympic torch en route to Salt Lake City, a flame brought together the cultures and people of the world.

The flame of Interfaith Week did much the same, though less dramatically.

Now the week is pulling to a close, one hopes the little fire that was kindled continues to burn and grow.


E-mail: jerjohn@desnews.com