Feast Day of Thomas Ken
The needles of my favorite pine tree are alight with jewels enlivened by the early morning sun. For some reason I think of Moses coming down from Mount Sinai, his face luminous after his interaction with God. His people could not look at him, made him put on a veil. Back then they said, “Who can look on the face of the LORD and live?” Their souls knew the mystery and the awe of holy presence.
We have instruments that can show us the births of galaxies, others that can take us back to the moment the universe began and listen to the sound of it. We can study the miniscule mechanisms of healing in living cells. We can watch our very own hearts beat on a computer screen, the valves fluttering open and closed, the muscle squeezing and releasing. These days we know where the wind comes from and where it goes, what powers the sun, where the great Leviathans go when they are not breaching the ocean waves.
Where is our awe? As we touch the machines that show us such mysteries, why don’t our fingers recoil at the shock of such knowing?
Perhaps that is a question I ought to be asking myself alone: Where is my awe? This week I have been suffering from pneumonia, an illness easily cured these days, provided one is not too compromised by age or other infirmities. Hacking and sweating my way to health as the antibiotic in my blood stream does its magic work, am I at all in awe? Or am I only thinking of time lost, promises I couldn’t keep, chores I must do as soon as I am again able?
Even as I think about wonder my soul opens and I feel a sustaining presence near to hand. Is it that I am light-headed from trying to get enough oxygen into my lungs? Silly woman. Yesterday I thought it was the wind that comforted me.
Today’s psalm helps me focus in reverence and gratitude.
I will bless the Holy One at all times;
God’s praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in God;
let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Creator with me,
and let us exalt God’s name together.
I sought my Beloved and that one answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to God, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by my Maker,
and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the Holy One encamps
around those who fear God, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Beloved is good;
happy are those who take refuge in the Divine.
– Psalm 34:1-8
Look to God and be radiant indeed. We are transformed by the barest touch at the tips of our branches.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries.