“Every moment was so precious … And it’s such a perfect day.”
Coldplay, Strawberry Swing
“Awe is a way of being in rapport with the mystery of all reality. The awe that we sense or ought to sense when standing in the presence of a human being is a moment of intuition for the likeness of God which is concealed in his essence. Not only man; even inanimate things stand in a relation to the Creator. The secret of every being is the divine care and concern that are invested in it. Something sacred is at stake in every event.”
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, from God in Search of Man
It happens. We don’t predict or plan it. In fact, it often occurs when we seem at our wits end, when we have tried everything in our power to order and right our world. We have struggled and frustrated ourselves. And if we were truly unkind we have even managed to frustrate others, leaving a wake of discord behind our frazzled intentions and hurried attempts.
But, still it happens. God’s grace wins the moment from our demise. We had been consumed with small matters, but in an instant the minor irritations in our soul disappear in the presence of something divine. We stumble upon a burning bush that glows with God’s glory. We are on holy ground, pulled out of our tailspin by grace and truth.
Such a moment happened to me this week. Not once, but twice.
First, I tell you, I was standing in the parlor with the other elders in our church. We had given the evening over to serving you and serving God. We had listened and talked and prayed. It was good work that we were doing, but also hard work. We were growing tired. It was a long day, and another wave of snow was coming. So, on top of it all, we were eager to get home.
However, before we departed we circled up. We stood around a table. There were eight adults, but none of us brought the gift. That belonged to Sammi Jo Jones. She had patiently waited for us grown-ups to finish our business, and at the end of our meeting she accepted our invitation to join us in a prayer. And, lo and behold, it was Sammi Jo that gave her voice to the prayer our Lord gave us. “Our Father, who art in heaven,” she said cheerfully, lifting our hearts and minds.
That was the first glimmer of grace.
The second instance came late Thursday. After navigating my way into town and back home, I came in with good news. The sun made it at least bearable for us to get outside with the kids. We could escape to a wider world, even if we needed the thick layers of winter coats and snow pants.
I readied the kids. Anna got a start on dinner, and somehow we managed to get all of us outdoors for the first time in what seemed like weeks.
We ran up and down the drive. We climbed the small mounds of snow made by grandpa and his Bobcat. And, then, I managed to get both the kids to lay down with me in the snow, backs flat against the cold earth and our bodies insulated.
As we lay, in the high blue above us we could make out the pristine white of an airline jet, taking off from the Indianapolis airport no doubt and flying westward, perhaps to some region warm and always sunny.
It would be nice, perhaps, to be someplace like that. But, in those brief moments, we had just enough sunshine to get by … just enough to lay there in the splendid cold … in the silent awe.
And that was the second glimmer.Hope to see you soon and God's peace to you,