The moments of our days are unpredictable, holding out little prescience as to their pending gifts or challenges. What faces us can only be guessed at. Most often, in terms of our under-the-sun perspective, life can feel a bit like a craps shoot. To many, such a heavenly closed door policy is anything but comforting. We prefer instead the more attainable light of tightly Franklin-Planner arranged days. Without casting aspersions on such a wise care of time, I’d like to suggest that even our best planning can ill-prepare us to encounter God’s mysterious visitations.
I speak not of those fantastic Old Testament stories of flying chariots, burning pillars, swooping angels, Angel of the Lord appearances and the like. I speak instead of the small, almost imperceptible invasions of the Holy upon our otherwise lack lustre days. That moment of awareness, of…recognition wherein the universe, if only for a moment, makes sense. It can often be accompanied by a clear and calming peace, even joy, which allows all else to fade into the background. Occasionally, a particularly ominous, albeit centering, “fear” frames these times, lending the profound insight into…something.
In these spacious moments of grace, God allows us a front row seat; not of the apocalyptic kind where we hope to see whose side wins, but of the more existential kind. As we go about the numbing minutiae of our days, God comes and taps us on the shoulder. It’s a touch so gentle and unassuming that we do not spin around as we might when a meddlesome younger sibling might have done when we were children. Instead, we are invited to lift up our heads from their place, buried in the details of daily life, and wait.
The pause we feel is not merely some ripple in time like one might experience on the Starship Enterprise but something more, subtle, more…intentional. Then, as we wrest ourselves from the preoccupation with ourselves and manage an inward glance, God who, in Christ, has taken up residence within, causes condensation to appear on our souls; hints of God’s warming Presence. Contemplation is the act by which we wipe away this condensation and, behind the fogged mirror of our being, we see the face of Christ, opaque and slightly blurry, but unmistakable.
We let our eyes meet and he points us upward to where we mistakenly aim our prayers and shows us a sky that is cracked and unsure, but behind which leak strands of red-hued light, made that way as truth shines through blood-stained beauty and we are changed from shadow to brilliance.
* * * * * * * * * *
When bleeds the sky, the heav’ns drawn taut,
we feast our eyes on what fades not;
and God’s way dawns on nighted hearts
in sweet refrains God’s love imparts.
When righteous hands stretch’d out to die
the broken world and heaven cried,
but God stayed not in dreary tomb,
but rose again to life anew.
When souls draw nigh to find their place,
in glory’s glow, sin leaves no trace;
now live we in God’s bosom rest
and there, secure what’s true and best.
(Text: Robert Rife ©2013; Tune: Traditional English melody)
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