Glory

Glory

Glory

A glimpse of You which 
Must be veiled lest
We fall blinded on the road.

 

The light which shone
On Moses’ face was
Caught from being with You.

 

You say be still, yet
It often feels as
Though the darkness remains.

 

What is the secret of
Beholding You, of 
Letting You blaze through me?

 

Time, time, and more,
Forty years if even
A day spent with You.

 

All of my time is
Worth giving away for just
A brief moment in fire and cloud.

 

I long for a touch of
Even Your hem, to
Soak and steep in Your

 

Glory.

 

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credit: photo from NASA

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The Way Home to the Father

We are told to follow Jesus, to imitate Him as we live out our God-life here on earth.
We know this, and yet we find it all too easy to skim over the harder parts of His story.
washing feet
Some of the hardest parts to follow, at least for me, are the foot washing and the crucifixion. Yet these are two of the pieces that most embody Emmanuel, God-with-us.
Jesus spent much of His ministry telling the people around Him that His time had not yet come. Now it is the time of Passover and Jesus knew that His time had come. His time had come to leave this world and go to the Father.
What does He do first, now that His time has come? He washes the disciples feet. All of them. Even Judas.
serving
The Word of God, the Word made flesh, the Word who laid aside His glory in order to become a man now lays aside His clothes of fabric in order to wash feet.
He does not wash our feet despite the fact that He is God, but because He is God. This is how He shows us the Father.
This footwashing points us toward the cross, toward the moment when Jesus reveals the depths of the Father’s heart for us. This is who God is: the One who lays down His very life, first in service and then in giving it up completely through death, for His beloved creation.
These events, the footwashing and the crucifixion, are the events that lead Jesus to His time of going to the Father.
They are the events which form the ladder from this world to the Father’s world. They are the acted words the eternal Word must speak. They are the way home that the Son of God must take. ~ N. T. Wright
Why do we think that we can find a different way home to the Father?
deny self
Jesus says, after He has finished washing the feet of the disciples, that He has laid out a pattern for them to follow.
This is so hard. We are so proud and selfish. We proclaim Jesus as Lord and really mean that we have taken up His mantle of lordship within our little piece of the world. We want to rule and to push the serving bit off to the side.
This, however, is not following the pattern Jesus set for us. This is not imitating Him.
Instead, we, too, must lay aside our clothes, our clothes of pride and selfishness, and wash the feet of those given into our care, as the disciples were given into the care of Jesus.
We, too, must lay aside our lives, picking up our cross and dying to ourselves, for those the Father loves.
dying to ourselves
This is our way home to the Father.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credits: The Washing of the Feet by James Tissot; Jesus Washing the Feet of Peter by Sudharkarbira; Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet by Francesco Vanni; Jesus Washing the Feet of His Disciples by Albert Edelfelt

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Run Like the White Queen

It is so much easier to be a sinner than a saint.
Easier to give in, go along, look to the now.
The world’s goal is easy to see, culture’s race is short to run, while the race set out for us by our Rescuer seems so clouded with uncertainty, so far away from where we are now.
Alice_queen2
Progress in evil was quick and easy…The growth in goodness was so slow, at times so flat, so dull, and like the White Queen one had to run so fast to stay where one was, let alone progress; and there were few men who dared to say they had found God. ~ Elizabeth Goudge
I become so discouraged with my progress. I practice silence for months and find myself just as distracted as in the beginning. I practice gentleness with my children and find myself spewing anger yet again. I practice restraining my tongue with my husband and find myself opening my mouth without even thinking.
Will I ever see fruit come to bear in my life?
Will any of us ever bear the kind of fruit we were created to bear?
Yes. Even when we feel as though we are moving backward, even when we despair of ever getting it right, yes.
How do I know?
God promised.
He promised that He would complete this work begun in us. He promised that He would restore us to the way we were created to be. He promised to remake us into the image of His Son.
We only have to wait and hope.
Hope for what is promised, hope for what will be.
We must discipline ourselves to hope when our lives seem hopeless. We must discipline ourselves to trust that what is promised will be fulfilled. We must discipline ourselves never to despair but to cling to Truth and Love.
Our perfection has nothing to do with us and everything to do with the trustworthiness of the One who loves and is able to keep His promises.
His hands gripping the sides of the stall, he pronounced in words his belief that even for such as he, if he could endure to the end, eventual perfection was not only possible but certain through the grace of God, his conviction that despair was sin. The prayer of words was all he had now. The discipline of words must hold him up until the desert was crossed and the Seraph could sing again. ~ Elizabeth Goudge
Be still and endure. Discipline yourself to hope.
The Seraph will sing again.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art Credit: Alice and the Queen by John Tenniel

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Come and See

We all have had, or will have, grief.
grief
Soul-shaking, heart-wrenching, self-shattering grief.
Come and see, we tell Jesus.
Come and see my deepest pain.
pain
Why didn’t You fix this? Why didn’t You stop this before it happened? Why weren’t You here?
Come and see, Mary said after her brother had died.
Come and see where they have laid him.
sorrow
Why didn’t You fix this? Why didn’t You stop this before it happened? Why weren’t You here?
Jesus’ response to Mary is the same response He has to us when we lead Him into our innermost sorrow.
He bursts into tears.
He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. (Isaiah)
suffering
Jesus does not look at us in the middle of our weeping and tell us to cheer up, for He has everything under control.
He does not tell us to get a grip on ourselves and to just trust Him, for heaven’s sake.
There is, rather, the man of sorrows, acquainted with our grief and pain, sharing and bearing it to the point of tears. ~ N. T. Wright
He bursts into tears right along with us, coming into our sorrow and bearing the burden with us.
Come and see, we tell Him.
Come and see where I have suffered my greatest pain.
Come and see, He tells us in reply.
Come and see
Come and see,
and He leads us through our grief into a place of love and peace and resurrection,
a place where He now dwells in the light and glory of a new day.
The new day is dawning; and, though where we live the night can be very dark, and the tears very bitter, there is light and joy waiting not far away. ~ N. T. Wright
Come and see.

 

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

all photographs are copyright Made Sacred 2019

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The Intolerable Longing of Beauty

This surprising, pleasing world is so full of truth, goodness, and beauty.
beauty
Simply to step outside is to be drawn to the idea of a true, good, and beautiful Creator.
Sunlight stirring up the scent of pine trees.
A pang of joy in the sound of brief birdsong.
Creation is a gift, and in pausing to contemplate the gift, we sense the presence of the Giver.
truth
Beauty pulls our hearts straight toward God.
Herein lies a problem.
Beauty stirs up in us a remembrance of how things were, once upon a time.
goodness
A painful contrast to the way things are now.
Beauty awakens a pain in our hearts.
A pain that, often, we do not quite understand.
We do not understand why the sight of beauty produces a tightness in our chest,
a lump in our throat,
a deep desire to turn aside and weep.
longing
We do not understand why the sight of beauty produces a deep discontent with the world all around.
Sometimes this almost unbearable longing causes us to turn away, to shut ourselves off from this feeling we do not quite understand.
Beauty awakened such intolerable longing that people often shut their eyes to it, unaware that the longing was the greatest treasure that they had, their very lifeline, uniting the country of their lost innocence with the heavenly country for which their sails were set. ~ Elizabeth Goudge
This intolerable longing is our tether to what will be again someday. It is what keeps our whole selves aimed toward our telos, our ultimate goal, a vision of heaven and earth made new again.
This longing is what brings us back again and again to this Jesus-path toward restoration and renewal.
intolerable longing
This longing is what keeps our hearts awake to the very presence of the Creator who will once again craft all things into a work of beauty.
Even us.
It will be a lasting beauty, this time, unmarred by the ugly that currently plays a jarring counterpoint all through our world.
longing
Don’t shut your eyes to the beauty of this world.
Be still, rather, with the intolerable longing it awakens in you.
Then pray for the return of the Giver who will make all things new.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credits: photographs of light through trees, mountains, and rapids by Kirk Sewell; all other photographs copyright Made Sacred 2019

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The Problem of Pleasure

We often speak of the problem of pain.
problem of pain
This world is so broken and full of hurt.
problem of pain
How do we reconcile an all-loving, all-powerful God with the reality of the suffering that occurs all around us all the time?
I, myself, have written of this quite often in this space over the years.
Yet there is another problem.
One we don’t speak of nearly as often, if at all.
The problem of pleasure.
problem of pleasure
This world is so astonishing, so beautiful.
How do we reconcile the possibility of the unreality of God with the truth, goodness, and beauty that occurs all around us all the time?
problem of pleasure
This world.
This surprising, pleasing world.
problem of pleasure
A sky that can be so blue it causes your chest to tighten with longing and then puts on an incredible show of brilliant colors. Twice. Every day.
Creatures like the narwhal that make us laugh and creatures like the bald eagle in flight that make us catch our breath.
Procreation, the continuation of our species, that brings with it an ecstasy that sets the nerves aflame.
Apples that nourish our bodies. With a crisp, sweet, juicy taste. With a brilliant color that is lovely to look at. With a smell that delights.
An all-loving, all-powerful God who created this world to be good before it became broken through sin seems a reasonable explanation for why this world contains so much pleasure.
problem of pleasure
Moments of pleasure are the remnants washed ashore from a shipwreck, bits of paradise extended through time. ~ G. K. Chesterton
These moments are pieces of the world as it was created to be, scattered around to stir up in our hearts a longing for Beauty, to focus our hearts on Truth, to remind our hearts of the Goodness that one day will fill the earth completely again.
Things on this earth, from the experience of joy to the touch of the softest kitten fur, still bear traces of their original state. They are shining clues into the true nature of creation, as it was originally created to exist.
If there is no Creator, if there is no powerful God of love, how do we explain the problem of pleasure?
problem of pleasure
I know how I explain this existence of pleasure in our universe.
Perhaps, just perhaps, the truth, goodness, and beauty that occur all around us all the time do, after all, point toward the reality of an all-loving, all-powerful God.
Just perhaps.

 

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credits: all photographs are copyright Made Sacred 2019

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Hunger

I hunger for You
Hunger
Hunger
or, perhaps,
I want to hunger for You.
If only I could catch a glimpse.
Hunger
Hunger
I don’t ask for much.
I don’t place myself at the level of Moses,
do not request the sight of Your back.
Only a glimpse of Your heel,
the hem of Your robe,
perhaps.
Would that stir my heart toward hunger?
Would a glimpse whet my appetite for You?
Only for a shining moment, I fear.
Hunger
I know myself, know how quick I am to distraction.
I often catch a glimpse of Your glory.
Morning light catching dew.
Pudgy hands serving a sibling.
Symphony chorus sounding in the twilight.
I often catch a glimpse, yet
I am quick to dismiss the glimpse for the fully seen.
Hunger
Only You can make me hunger.
Only You can create new longing.
Only You can bring my desire to match my need.
Make me hunger for You
Hunger
Hunger
so that I am awake to each glimpse
and drawn to hunger yet more.

 

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

All photographs copyright Made Sacred 2019

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If This Is Creation

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

 

Creation
If this is creation,
from the cold and unapproachable star
to the velvety and pungent sage,
if this is creation,
that matters.
It makes this world,
from the Alaskan wilderness
to the plumber under our sink,
a gift to cherish rather than a commodity to be used.
It makes all of knowledge,
from the how-it-works of the sciences
to the what-is-it and why-is-it of the arts,
a discovery of reality rather than a making of what we wish life to be.
If this is creation,
we cannot consider any aspect of this life in a truthful way
without also considering the Source of it all.
The very novelty that is you,
your distinctive character and perspective,
only occurred because
the thought of you occurred
in the imagination of the Creator.
The Creator who was, is, and will always be
Creating
Moving
Holding all things together.
If this is creation,
that matters.
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Follow Me

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

 

Follow Me.
Follow Me
This is His call to us.
Follow Me.
Just as He called to His disciples, without explanation, as they rose from their boats and reached for His hand.
Follow Me.
Follow Me
He calls and we either spend the rest of our lives following or we spend the rest of our lives fleeing that call.
Follow Me.
We do not truly know at first Who we are following;
we do not truly know at first to what He is calling us.
Follow Me
Yet as we obey, He reveals Himself in the work, in the doubts, in the sufferings we all pass through in His company.
No one can explain to us exactly who He is,
no one can detail out the depths of His character,
yet as we follow, we learn in our own experience who He is.
We catch a glimpse of this Son of Man who changed the course of our world in the moment of His birth,
and in that glimpse He begins to change us.
Follow Me.
Follow Me
And as we follow, through all of the work, the doubts, the sufferings, we begin to look like Him.
Follow Me.
As we follow and gaze deeply at His face, we begin to see it for what it is just possible that it might become:
the face of Jesus as our face.

Art credits: Jesus Calls Fishermen etching by Jan Luyken; Jesus Calls the Fishermen woodcut; Jesus and His Disciples on the Sea of Galilee; Jesus Calls James and John woodcut

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I AM

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

 

I am hungry.
I am unsatisfied,
empty,
left with no way to fill myself up.
I am darkness.
I am lost,
confused,
full of evil with no hope of change.
I am a wall.
I shut people out,
turn them away,
stand firm to protect myself.
I am filled with death.
I am physically dying,
falling apart,
spiritually dead if left alone.
I am a sheep.
I am foolish,
slow-witted,
helpless to do anything for myself.
I am a wanderer.
I am homeless,
shelterless,
prone to fall off the path.
I am a branch.
I am dependent,
vulnerable,
incapable of producing anything good.
Good Shepherd
Until Jesus.
I am the bread of life.
I am the light of the world.
I am the door of the sheep.
I am the resurrection and the life.
I am the good shepherd.
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
I am the true vine.
Praise be to God for His unfailing mercy and His  eternal lovingkindness.
true vine
I am nothing without Him.

Art credit: The Good Shepherd from a catacomb in Rome, second half of the 3rd century.

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