Monday, April 10, 2017

Glory Walking Down the Street

Back to my question at the beginning of Lent:  What would glory look like if I saw it walking down the street?

I have three answers, all, of course, related.

First of all, it would not look how I expected it to look.  In truth, it might look exactly the opposite. The people or things to which my first reaction is to cross the street, walk in the opposite direction, or otherwise ignore.  Three Sundays ago, Jesus' disciples ask him about a blind man, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus replied, "neither this man nor his parents sinned, he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed." I do not take Jesus to mean that God caused the man to be born blind, but that such a one witnesses to the world-upside-down ways of God.  It is not sin that it is to be seen in the man, it is glory. It is not "because of" for which we should be looking, but "in spite of."

Second of all, once I begin to get the world-upside-down way of God, I can begin to see things that I might naturally call "glorious," a glimpse beyond themselves to the glory of God. They are not glorious in and of themselves, or by anyone's making. They are glorious because they participate in creation, the "living" that causes us and all that is around us, to be. I think this is what Irenaeus mean by his saying, "The glory of God is the living human being."

Third, as two follows on one, than the glory of God is not what we meet or observe walking down the street. It is the walking and the observing itself, and, more than that, it is my participation with all that is being created. It is all glory, all of it, as it is all a gift of the Creator of the Universe, of all that has been, that is, or that ever will be.  Of course, the poets know this before the rest of us.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God,
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge, and shares man's smell:  the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and ah! bright wings.
                                           Gerard Manley Hopkins

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