40 Days On the Edge (Day 21): Impudent Prayer
40 Days On the Edge (Day 23): An Amazing Condescension

40 Days On the Edge (Day 22): Glory

Lights_2When we look carefully at any event, work of art, or part of the built or natural environment, we are actually trying to get to the essence of the thing. Most people don't have a lot of time for such navel-gazing; artists and contemplatives do it all the time. We're asking that whatever it is reveal itself, that it give up its meaning, and it won't generally do so easily.

When Moses asked to see God's glory (Ex 33:18), it was another of his bold requests. He was asking to know the essence of God. As Stephen Smallman says, that glory is "whatever it is that makes God, God." He knew not what he asked. And yet God gives him what he can handle. He hides him in a cleft in the rocks and allows His goodness to pass in front of him, that is, He shows him His benefits. He limits His revelation. Whatever we see of God's glory in Heaven, we are not ready for it now. And yet we can see what He chooses to reveal.

And that's the thing about life. Whether we're mucking through a messy set of circumstances or a seemingly intractable personal problem, marveling at the miracle of honey and the honeybee or how a great city like New York actually works, wondering just what it is about a particular place with its juxtaposition of built and natural features that so brings us a settled joy, or letting the golden words of a poem or story sink into our soul --- we're asking what the glory of the thing is, what is its essence. In so doing, we're asking what God is telling us, letting the glory of the thing give up something of His glory as well.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face." (1 Cor. 13:12). And yet that "poor reflection" (what another version says we see "dimly") can be dazzling. That we are simply looking at an image of what really is, of Who really is (and not the One Himself), stokes our awe. It makes me want to keep the question in front of me all day, no matter what I see or confront: What is the glory of this thing? Who is this King of Glory?

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