Sunday, October 29, 2006


This morning the city once again caught me off guard with the sort of soul-piercing beauty that is just so rare when you get this many of your closest friends together in so few square miles. It was a lovely day, of course. And at about 8:45 I stepped out of my apartment to head to church. I got into my car, pulled out of my spot, waited for the gate to open, and made the turn to leave the complex.

And was frozen in my tracks.

The newborn morning is a magical thing. When the sun is up and the world is officially awake, but still young and fresh. When the day hasn't yet started walking around and getting into trouble, but has just sat up for the first time and blinked it's wide eyes.

The sun came from the east over the hill in front of me (an embankment that lifts the street up to send it vaulting over the quarry and the train tracks south of my complex). The sky was blue and the sun shone down on the grass, where the vivid green was almost hidden by a dazzling blanket of dew. It looked like every blade was encrusted with diamonds, and I was struck with a physical sense of wonder, of awe, of worship, and of humility.

My breath was startled out of me, and I began to cry, because of the amazing, incredible beauty of an entire hillside sparkling under the young day.

I don't think I have words to convey the image, or the emotion. But my soul was shocked to stillness. The sort of stillness that comes after the earthquake, after the fire. When suddenly within yourself you hear the still small voice. It was always there, but too much was in the way. When you hear it all of a sudden like that, it can be shattering.

I haven't been to church very regularly lately. Today was my first day back in the Catholic Student Center choir after over a month of weekends home sick or weekends out of town. I was looking forward to this day back as a sort of coming home, even though my voice is still very weak from the strep. I miss my community of faith, and I miss the peace I find in doing things this way. I was prepared to get emotional about it. I wasn't prepared to have the prison walls riven open before I'd even gotten on the road.

But there I was crying as I drove, barely able to catch my breath. All because of sunlight on dewy grass. And there I was confronting the part of my soul that is helpless. I'm a pretty confident person, and I like to do and to fix, not to submit and wait. But this stripped me down to something inside myself that is completely helpless. Something that lies prostrate, is very easily hurt, and has *been* very hurt, and still hurts very much, and can only offer itself up to God and say, make of me what You will. I am nothing without You. In fact, I'm pretty much just lying here on the floor in the dark sobbing my heart out and praying that You will send me strength and peace and joy, because I can't find them alone. I've tried. Please help.

He so often does.

We sang a song in church today that I have always loved. But without the morning's vision, it would not have touched me like it did this time.

He healed the darkness of my mind
The day He gave my sight to me.
It was not sin that made me blind.
It was no sinner made me see.

Let others call my faith a lie
Or try to stir up doubt in me.
Look at me now, none can deny
I once was blind but now I see.

Ask me not how! But I know who
Has opened up new worlds to me.
This Jesus does what none can do.
I once was blind but now I see!

That dazzling light this morning opened up a new world. A world I don't know yet, and don't understand yet. But the eye-opening for me has always been like peeling an onion, or better, the thinning of the veil in slow stages. I'm not saying I have it all right. I have my questions. I have my doubts. But I'm doing the best I know how to do, and this is what feels right for me.

I'm used to feeling these things out in places like Glacier or the Hill Country. In places where I feel like my soul can stretch out as far as I can see without running into anything or anybody. I feel so much freer, less confined out there. But it looks like the Spirit can still manage to find me in the big city, too. It's nice to be reminded that I'm never completely lost in this crowd. And that thought in itself, that I am never lost, even among so many people, can be pretty darn breath-taking, too.

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