Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Friday, October 27, 2006

See the face of God and live

Over on Quaker Pagan Reflections, there's a post on the nature of grace, and seeing God in others. It spoke to me and to an experience that's been very long-running and an important part of who I've become.

For the longest time as a child, I was drawn to a hymn with the words "You shall see the face of God and live" ("Eagle's Wings") Until one day, as I sat in church, not praying, not doing anything in particular, just sitting there thinking whatever thoughts chose to show up, I felt as though a little light had lit up inside me. That light seemed to say that the way to see the face of God was to look, that I wouldn't see it if I weren't looking. And slowly, I can't say that it happened then or at any one time - it's been a process more than a revelation - I've been led along a path with glimpses of that light again and again.

And I've been allowed to see that divine light in other people, in the beauty of creation, in folks working together. I can't say that I've had blinding Revelation, like Paul on the road to Damascus. (I've gotta say, though, that I've suspected him of exaggerating. He seems to do that a fair bit in his writings. The gospels stay much simpler than the epistles.) I can't say even that I'm a Christian. I think people over time have had this same experience and put it into the best words they could find, but the words wind up misconstrued, and sometimes even substituted for the light they're supposed to convey.

And I really don't think it's something I could evangelize. My experience of that light hasn't been tied to one religion or anything that easy to pin down. All I can do, I think, is say what my experience of it has been. At times, it's been like an aching love for other people - both people I've known all my life, and people I met for an afternoon, or even just smiled at on the street. Other times, it's been an experience of intense caring, that I am cared for, loved, cradled in the universe. At times, it's burned within me, asking me what I am doing about injustice, about wrong. And other times, it's wonder and awe. I love Niagara Falls. Despite the tacky tourist strip, despite the concrete acreage, despite the snowglobes and memorial spoons, despite even that stupid colored light show. I just love to hear the water, watch the birds, walk down the trail to the rapids below, and feel that awe, know that sometimes the universe does just put on a magnificent show.

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