SATURDAY READING: What Do You Want? The Place of Seeing God by Ann Voskamp

What Do You Want? The Place of Seeing God by Ann Voskamp

From One Thousand Gifts

Every time you feel in God’s creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: “O my God, if thy creations are so full of beauty, delight, and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight, and joy art thou thyself, creator of all! (Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain)

“You will want to see this.”

He takes my shoulders in his hands, large and field-worn, and draws me close.  I fight the urge to writhe.

It’s not him.  Not his hands holding me, the whisper of his voice, his eyes inviting me now.  It’s just that I’m feeling time’s strangling grip, struggling to make a cathedral of the moment, to hallow it with the holy all here.  It’s late and I’ve got an even later dinner to dish onto eight empty plates.  A half dozen children noisily, happily, ring the table with their hardly washed hands and silly jokes replete with snorts and grunts and dirty feet still needing bathing.  And I haven’t served the diner yet, haven’t slice up the loaf of bread yet, haven’t put away the basil, oregano, parsley, the peelings of carrots, the skins of onions, the jars of tomatoes.  Still have to grate the cheese into circles in the soup bowls.  Still have to wash the dishes, sweep the floors, wash up kids, turn down beds, kneel for the prayers weary and long and needy.  My gratitude journal is buried under a mess of papers over the sink’s sill with yesterday’s snippets of the list that never ends:

Book pages turning
Child sobs ebbing
Boys humming hymns
Click of a seat belt
Fender rattling with stones of gravel roads
Wind rushing through open truck window
Horse hooves clopping down a side road
Laundry flapping
Buggy clattering
Squeak of old swing swaying

– but nothing counted today.  And I know my camera is lying facedown in a cupboard and my windows are finger smudged and my head is right spun and when I carry the water pitcher to the table it leaves drops of clear on the counter, round rim of a circle, one large in the center, and it looks like an eye.

For a moment, I notice.

I stare back.

Then wipe it away.

The aping racket rises and I feel it mount and I almost yield to its vise, almost acquiesce, almost desecrate the space with words that snap.  “Can’t I just see whatever it is later?”

But he’s holding on to me gentle.  He’s smiling broadly.  He’s leaning his face into all my knotted angst, and his hands slide down my arms, bold, blind love, and his thick fingers twine mine.  “Come.”

“Right now?”  Can’t he see the kids, hear the kids, feel the crush of all these kids?

He’s grinning silly, man-boy with a secret he can hardly contain.

He leads me the impossible distance of a whole two steps to the windowsill.  I’m transfixed.  Wonder gapes the mouth open and spirits the words away.

His whisper brushes the curl of my ear, “When I saw it, I knew you’d want it too.”

Want it?  Who can breathe?  I am moon-eyed and moonstruck.  I turn to find his eyes to find words.  “Serve dinner?  So I can….” So I can what? What is it exactly that I want to do?

“… So I can run out there?”

He’s laughing at me all wide-eyes, but I don’t care and he’s used to it, he who made vows to a woman seeker and hunter and chaser.  No – he didn’t actually make vows to that woman.  But this is the woman I am becoming.  That eucharisteo is making me – fulfilling thanks vows to God.  I am starved and the feast makes me wild.  Because really, who gets to touch the moon?  Tonight, she’s close.  I might.

He grins, nods go, and I breathe relief and I remember to grab the camera off the shelf but forget to close the cupboard and I am gone, out the back door, across the back lawn, apron still on.

I take flight.  I feel foolish, like a woman taking photographs of cheese, but I feel four again, the spring after we buried Aimee, and my younger-by-only-twelve-months-and-thirteen-days brother John, he and I ran whole lengths of fields at twilight to touch the sun, an ember burning up the horizon.  I remember how the swallows had swooped, the flame light thick with bugs for their bills.  My mama had sat at field’s edge rocking my only five-month-old sister and watched us chase and she smiled, understanding the hoping.  We ran and ran.  My dad drove a tractor down the field, tilling up the earth.

I am old now.  Why am I after the moon tonight?  I have known all these years since that you can never run all the way to the end and lay your hand up against awe.  I have grieved this.  Are the staid Mennonite neighbors peering out their kitchen windows to see the farmer’s wife flapping across the wheat stubble?  I do have shoes on.  Are my own children nose-pressed to the window watching my race?

The moon rounds immense, incandescent globe grazing ours.  Her gravity pulls, pearl filling deepening sky, stringing me unto the universe.

If I race to field’s edge, Earth’s rim, can I stroke her lustrous curve, drink her lily-white skin?

I laugh.  I am still a child.

She is a harvest moon aching, swaying over the golden fields, womb swelling round with glory, and she’s rising away.  I gather my apron close, run faster through the wheat stubble.  Who am I to see glory with unveiled face?  Is that what the child seeks?

Is that why I escape motherhood at the dinner hour, because I can’t see the glory there, here, right in the moment?  Still?  And me slowing for the hunt, looking for even one thousand more gifts, sanctuaries in moments, seeking the fullest life that births out of the darkest emptiness, all the miracle of eucharisteo.  Yes – maybe that woman-child.  The one who lives her life in circles, discovering, entering into, forgetting and losing, finding her way round again, living her life in layers – deeper, round, further in.  I know eucharisteo and the miracle.  But I am not a woman who ever lives the full knowing.  I am a wandering Israelite who sees the flame in the sky above, the pillar, the smoke from the mountain, the earth open up and give way, and still I forget.  I am beset by chronic soul amnesia.  I empty of truth and need the refilling.  I need come again every day – bend, clutch, and remember – for who can gather the manna but once, hoarding, and store away sustenance in the mind for all of the living?

An arrow of geese catch the moon before I do, black silhouettes shooting her through.  I run harder.  The flock lifts her higher into night coming down, lonely cries heralding the coming autumn.  They pierce me through.  There at our fence line where our wheat field gives way to foreign land, I gasp to inhale, crumple to earth.  The moon on the geese wings climbs.

I am of terra; they are of heavens.  I’ve only come to witness.

Is this why I’ve come?

The weight of all this stark beauty crushes lungs.  Mine burn.

I had written it down after I had read it, that I might hope to remember it: the Hebrew word used throughout scripture to describe God’s glory, kabod, is described from the root word meaning “heaviness.”

Dusk and all the arching dome and the field and the great-bellied moon, it all heaves, heavy with the glory.  I heave to breathe: The whole Earth is full of his glory.  Sky, land, and sea, heavy and saturated with God – why do I always forget?  Yeah, I’m no different than Jacob, Jacob waking from sleep before full moon rising.  “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!’  But he was also afraid and said, ‘What an awesome place this is!  It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to Heaven!'”  This moment, this place, is none other than a gate into Heaven.  God’s glory rains down, weighs down Earth’s tented heights, and grace tears through, ripping sky canvas and me clear open.  Everywhere windows and gates, and I did not know it.  No.  I have known it and I have forgotten it and I remember it again.

The weight of God’s glory, not illusory or ephemeral, but daily and everywhere, punctures Earth’s lid and Heaven falls through the holes.  I kneel in wheat, moonstruck.

Bowed at the edge of the world, Jesus asks me spun in circles, me coming to, only to lapse and to forget again.  He asks soft of me, who is yet again lost what he asked of the man born blind: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Why have I run?

A mama with children, a wife with full house, a Father’s child living eucharisteo and even the hard – his eye is on me under the moon, penetrating my own shroud.  His breath falls warm.  He knows what I want, need.  Has he called me because he wants me to do my own plumbing of the soul?  What do you want?

Isn’t that the sole question we all need to circle back to, over and again?  And who knows the answer?

I feel in it my chest first, before any answer or layer of answer finds shape in image, words.  (For all real answers, don’t they come in strata, gradations of understanding?)  My body knows it, the way tension drains from shoulders and a heart unknots.  I loosen, breathe long.  I slow.  Moonlight cascades and a smile spreads in its wake.   What do you want?  Why have I run?  A summer of traveling to the city with Levi for follow-up visits with the surgeon.  A summer of physiotherapist appointments with daily bending exercises, trying to work his gnarled joint, stretch through the scar tissue stiff.  Yes, the whole of life, these exercises to break down the knotting scar tissue from the fall.  A summer of pain.  Always the running.  A summer of grace.  Always the revelation.  Pain is everywhere, and wherever the pain there can be everywhere grace, and yes, Jesus, I am struggling and I get turned around but I think I know, at least in part, what I want.  If I had never run, if I had never fallen, and here, I am not sure I would have known with blazing clarity.  I may not know all that it means, but this is what I want.

This kingdom laden with glory, this, the pearl of great price, the field I’d sell everything to possess.  This is the pearl that crams me with a happiness that throbs, serrated edge, pit open wide for more of his glory.

The only place we have to come before we die is the place of seeing God.

This is what I’m famished for: more of the God-glory.

I whisper with the blind beggar, “Lord, I want to see.”

That’s my moaning pulse: “See.  See.”


The camera.

I slip the camera out of the pocket of my apron.  How can this sensor, point-and-shoot in the palm of my hand, capture what the eye sees, the soul memorizes?  I kneel low on wheat stalks at the edge and I frame up the moon.  I want to see beauty.  In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.  Isn’t beauty what we yearn to burn with before we die?  What else so ignites, hot flame?  Beauty is all that is glory and God is Beauty embodied, glory manifested.  This is what I crave? I hunger for Beauty.  Is that why I must keep up the hunt?  When I cease the beauty hunt, is that why I begin to starve, waste away?

I laugh – because haven’t I run?  Pursued?  I must be Sehnsucht for beauty, that word C.S. Lewis used from the German – to long for (sehnen) like a mania (sucht).  I have run because I long for beauty like a mania, a woman leaving dinner, running in apron for the cast of the moon.  When I can’t find it – is that why my soul goes a bit wild, morose, crazed?  Strange – I hadn’t even noticed that I’d been hungry for Beauty until I ran for the moon.  Today frayed, unraveled at the edges a bit with dishes and dirt and paraphernalia dumped by kids.  But only yesterday I had been numbering moments, counting graces.  I thought I had felt soul-nourished.  Is that it?  Like an addiction, a compulsion that can’t stop its seeking, do I always want to see more beauty – more of the glory of God?  Because that is what I am made for – to give him more glory.  More eucharisteo, more.  And not only yesterday.  But today – manna today or I starve.

The moon has all my gaze, God-glory heavy and mounting.  I kneel here, needing to know how a hung rock radiates – ethereal?  This beauty is not natural, not of nature.  This beauty is not merely form and color but God’s “shining garment’s hem.”  Beauty is the voice endlessly calling and so we see, so we reach.  Doubt the philosophies, doubt the prophecies, doubt the Pharisees (especially the ones seen in mirrors), but who can doubt this.  Beauty?  Beauty requires no justification, no explanation; it simply is and transcends.  See beauty and we know it in the marrow, een if we have no words for it: Someone is behind it, in it.  Beauty himself completes.

I am alive!

Focus and click, focus and click.

A hunter trying to capture.  And none of the shots are close enough, wide enough, radiant enough for the hunter.  What is this that I feel sitting here, coursing through me relentless, hot, ardent?  I have to seek God beauty.  Because isn’t my internal circuitry wired to seek out something worthy of worship?  Every moment I life, I life bowed to something.  And if I don’t see God, I’ll bow down before something else.

Is worship why I’ve run for the moon?  Not for lunar worship, but for True Beauty worship, worship of Creator Beauty Himself.  God is present in all the moments, but I do not deify the wind in the pines, the snow falling on hemlocks, the moon over harvested wheat.  Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is a very different thing than seeing divine God present in all things.  I know it here kneeling, the twilight so still: nature is not God but God revealing the weight of himself, all his glory, through the looking glass of nature.  I had told it once to a questioning son that theology is but that born of theos and logy  – God and study – and theology is to study God.  I had always thought of the hefty concordances on the high shelf in the study, but isn’t this, too, the deep study of the Spirit God?  The revelation of God over the farm?

How I want to see the weight of glory break my thick scales, the weight of glory smash the chains of desperate materialism split the numbing shell of deadening entertainment, bust up the ice of catatonic hearts.  I want to see God, who pulls on the coat of my skin and doesn’t leave me alone in this withering body of mortality; I want to see God, who gives gifts in hospitals and gravesides and homeless shelters and refugee camps and in rain falling on sunflowers and stars falling over hayfields and silver scales glinting upriver and sewage flowing downriver.  Eucharisteo is everywhere and I want to see eucharisteo everywhere and I want to remember how badly I really want to see.

Here.  How could I have forgotten how badly I wanted this?

To bow down and rightly worship.

It is still, stalk still.

One lone stem of wheat bows its head before me.  Behind it, the perfect backdrop of pure moon full, pregnant with the grandeur.

I reach out my hand, run my finger up its silk slender shank.  This is how.  I learn how to say, thank you, from a laid-low head of wheat.  From the wind rustling glory through the dried blades of grass raised, from the leaves in the silver maple hushed awed still.  I pay tribute to God by paying attention.  I raise one hand high.  And another hand high.  I bow the head down.  I lay the body down.  “The life of true holiness is rooted in the oil of awed adoration.  It does not grow elsewhere,” writes J.I. Packer.  I am bowed like wheat, raised like grass blades, grounded and rooted to now, and from him and through him and to him are all things and all is his and everything that has breath praises him and I whisper it again, again, again, remembering, remembering, remembering.

Eucharisteo, eucharisteo, eucharisteo.

Isn’t he the face of all faces?  He is infinite and without end, without jaw or sockets, everywhere eye.  The face of the moon, the face of the doe, the face of derelict, the face of pain, his the countenance that seeps up through the world, face without limitation, face that “plays in ten thousand places.”

All beauty is only reflection.

And whether I am conscious of it or not, any created thing of which I am amazed, it is the glimpse of his face to which I bow down.  Do I have eyes to see it’s him and not the thing?  Satan came in the scales that gleamed, a thing of beauty, and he lured the first woman and she was deceived.  Beauty, the disguise, can slide dangerous.  True, authentic Beauty requires of us, lays claim to us, and it is this, the knees bent, the body offered in obedience.  A pantheist’s god is a passive god, but omnipresent God is Beauty who demands worship, passion, and the sacrifice of a life, for he owns it.  Do I have eyes to see his face in all things so I’m not merely dazzled by the trinket, glitzy bauble dangling for the ogling, till it flakes and breaks and I strain for more to lie prostrate before?

I rise slowly, roll face to sky darkening navy, strung with that one large pearl; I lie quiet.  I lie long.  August lies out.  A sparrow flits low, a surprise.  That moon is so white.  I could lie here forever, murmuring the only language of the God-glory: gratitude.  It’s all so… unlikely.  I have never before run.  I have never before stretched out prostrate.  Why am I out in this evening field, lying under moon?  Is eucharisteo opening the eyes wider, the heart deeper?  Is this paradox – that giving thanks for what is, creates an appetite for more – not for more things, but for seeking more of God to give more glory?

Looking is the love.  Looking is evidence of the believing.  The moon swings higher.  I remember reading it only weeks before, sitting in the surgeon’s waiting room with Levi, the hospital renovation progressing slowly, the patients healing only slightly faster.  (Transfiguration can be the long miracle.)  Levi had daydreamed out the waiting room window, listened to the stories of car accidents and work injuries from the bandaged, and I had held my book.  I’d read how the Israelites looked about and saw much to bemoan, much to complain about: “and they began to speak against God and Moses.  ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?’ they complained.  ‘There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink.  And we hate this horrible manna!'”  I had looked around at the wounded all waiting.  I had turned back to the page.  And what does God send the ingrates?  What came to the ingrates in the Eden beginning?  A slithering blanket of snakes that coil around the complaints of the Israelites, open wide and pierce the flesh with the fang.  Always, ingratitude makes the poison course.  The cure against thanklessness’s bite?

The remedy is in the retina.

Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole.  All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!”  So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attacked it to a pole.  Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed! (Numbers 21:8-9, emphasis added)

How we behold determines if we hold joy.  Behold glory and be held by God.

How we look determines how we live… if we live.

A patient’s name was called and a father helped a son to his feet and the boy leaned hard.

And I had read how Jesus says, “In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up – and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.”  I had looked up from my book and into the face of a boy with his ear bandaged and I didn’t want to imagine what had happened.  I had tried to take it in: Isn’t Jesus himself saying that people need to see and then believe – that looking and believing are the same thing?  That in the right inner looking, we can gain the right outer life… the saved full life?  I had read it and had forgotten (always!) but I remember it now, mooning under the moon, “Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.”

Faith is in the gaze of a soul.  Faith is the seeing soul’s eyes upon a saving God, the saving God of twisted bodies, the saving God of harvest moons.  Is that summer’s last cricket strumming lonely?  The diameter of the night orb fills all the atmosphere over our farm.  Faith is the seeing eyes that find the gauze to Heaven torn through; that slow to witness the silent weight, feel the gold glory bar heavy in palm, no matter the outer appearance.  Seeing is the spiritual life: “they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.”  “Looking comes first,” wrote Lewis in The Great Divorce.  First, the eyes.  Always first, the inner eyes.

Two crickets sing now in echo.  That leper who had returned with thanks – his faith that gave thanks was counted by Jesus as saving faith.  And now this – that faith is not a once-in-the-past action, but faith is always a way of seeing, a seeking for God in everything.  And if the eyes gaze long enough to see God lifted in a thing, how can the lips not offer eucharisteo?  The truly saved have eyes of faith and lips of thanks.  Faith is in the gaze of a soul.

Has his love lured me out here to really save me?

I sit up in the wheat stubble, drawn.  That he would care to save.  Moon face glows.  We are head-to-head.  I am bare; he is bare.  All Eye sees me.  An ample hoop rung with brilliance, the moon is like a wheel of chrysolite riding up the sky, full of the radiance of the glory of the Lord.  I want to be cherub, all eye, looking back.  To be like the cherubim, with “eyes all over their bodies, including their hands, their backs, and their wings.”  To be Moses, who “kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.”  That is what makes us persevere through a life: to see him who is invisible!  It is my prayer with the last crickets of summer: O Lord, open the eyes of my heart, the eyes of my hands, the eyes of my mouth, the eyes of my feet.  I long to live all eye.

A gust of wind rattles hollow through dried leaves of a patch of soybeans.  The leaves in the silver maple murmur of fall coming, fall coming.  I feel too bared.  Can I live all eye and gaze on God and live?

I must, to believe, and so said Jesus, but I too remember, “‘But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.””  And yet there are days where I know it in the shadows: “Truly you are a God who hides himself.”  (Or is it me who hides?)  Other times, Jacob times, I know it is the only way to be delivered from the blackness: “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face-to-face, and yet my life has been delivered.'”   And yet at all times, I wonder: Can anyone with the oily stains of a pride-splotched heart see God?

I look down at the stained skirt of my apron, washed in moonlight.  And I think I can stand here?  I think I can brave this Beauty?  Not an empty, tinny beauty but a Fierce Beauty, Flaming Fire who burns through the thick masks and leave the soul disrobed.  I am naked and I am right ashamed.  I know how monstrously inhumane I can be.  Raging at children for minor wrongdoings while I’m the one defiling the moment with sinful anger.  Hoarding possessions while others die of starvation.  Entertaining the mind with trivial pretties when I haven’t bowed the head and heart in a prayer longer than five minutes in a week.  My tongue has had a razor edge and my eyes have rolled haughty and my neck has been stiff and graceless and I have lived the filth ugly, an idolater, a glutton, and a grace thief who hasn’t had time for the thanks.

I wrap the hem of my splattered apron around a finger.  I cannot raise the eye.  We’ve read it around the table at the close of the meal, us all with Bibles open, and we’ve red the verse with one voice: “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.”  What am I doing out here?  I am filthy rags.  Is sight possible?  I’ve only got one pure thing to wear and it’s got Made by Jesus on the tag and the purity of Jesus lies over a heart and his transparency burns the cataracts off the soul.  The only way to see God manifested in the world around is with the eyes of Jesus within.  God within is the One seeing God without.  God is both the object of my seeing and the subject who does the act of all real seeing, the Word lens the inner eye wears.  To sit in the theater of God and see his glory crack the dark, to open the eyes of my heart to see the fountain of his grace – thousands of gifts – I have to split heart open to more and more of Jesus.  Who can split open the eyelids but Jesus?  He tears the veil to the Holy of Holies, gives me the only seeing I have.  I have been lost and now I am found and I sing it softly, before the flying of the flocks south: “Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart….”

The lunar pearl overwhelms and I am all eye to the world.  It is strange, how joy pains.  In the burn of the ache, there is this unexpected sensation of immense moon slowly shrinking and God expanding, widening and deepening my inner spaces.  Is that why joy hurts – God stretching us open to receive more of himself?

I ache-gaze on bits and blades of creation and all things created fade, diminish, and only the features of the Creator shimmer, magnified.  My eye sees through to the heights and him and things beneath are seen for what they are: but finite talismans pointing up.  That full moon rising higher holds me rapt.  This is where I see it.

God always sits here.

Joy that fills me under full moon is the joy that always fills God.  What I’ve run to brush up against, to press all my throbbing emptiness into, these heavy glory waters endlessly flood form him and he spills.  Skirts of stars swirl through black space and waterfalls canter over stones, manes of runaway horses, and lone mushroom tilts in the shadows of soundless forest and God sees it all.  This is his endless experience because this is who he is, beauty overflowing.  My moon wonder is but a glimpse, foretaste, of what God always sees, experiences.  He is not tyrant or despot.  I smile under the moon.

For God is happiest of all.

Joy is God’s life.

Don’t I yearn for it to be mine?

Is this why I’ve run?  Answering the invitation to live in him who is happiest of all?  I am a child again and tonight I have run to the end of the horizon and this time I have touched him and I twirl in full apron skirt, spinning hem brushing the grass heads bowed and i laugh joy.  It’s dawning, my full moon rising: I was lost but know I am found again, Jesus Jesus, and I know what I want: to see deeply, to thank deeply, to feel joy deeply.  How my eyes see, perspective, is my key to enter into his gates.  I can only do so with thanksgiving.  If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can’t I give thanks for anything?  And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolutely everything, I can enter the gates of glory.  Living in his presence is fullness of joy – and seeing shows the way in.

The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible.  And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible.  Isn’t joy the art of God?

It’s true!  What that ancient man Irenaeus, very disciple of the apostle John, wrote: “The glory of God is the human being fully alive and the life of the human consists in beholding God.”  For all the reasons he called me to come across field, he surely called me for this.  Don’t I give God most glory when I am fully alive?  And I am most fully alive beholding God!

I spin happy, and in the radiant expanse, engulfed, I glimpse the endlessness of God.  My desires, don’t they stretch out endless, like God?  Desire has no end, no bounds, but fuels all living, all lungs, and I spin.  Our endless desires are fulfilled in endless God.

I stop the whirl.  The grass heads still.  I can see the house lights glowing in the back bank of windows up on our knoll.  I should go to dishes and children needing baths and stories and prayers.  But I just don’t want this moon to end.  The desires submerge into God.  I want to see God endlessly.  I long to merge with Beauty, breathe it into lungs, feel it heavy on skin.  To beat on the door of the universe, pound the chest of God with the psalmist: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek… all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, and to seek him in his temple.”  Faith is the gaze of the soul and I want to see in.  So I can enter in.  Enter into God.  I wold read it long after my moon chase, words of C.S. Lewis, and I would startle at my unknowing echo of his cry:

What more, you may ask, do we want?  Ah, but we want to much more – something the books on aesthetics take little notice of.  But the poets and the mythologies know all about it.  We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough.  WE want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.


Is the longing for the Beauty the happiest place of all?  Longing to gaze upon the Beauty of the Lord and to seek him, the place where all the joy spills from.  No matter how manifested, beauty is what sparks the romance and we are the Bride pursued, the Lover pursuing, and known or unbeknownst, he woos us in the romance of all time, beyond time.  I ache for the oneness.  Would eucharisteo take me even into that?  I would pursue and he would pursue and how could I have known where all this journey would lead?

The moon climbs, a radiating disk gliding, shimmering space rock that slides on invisible gossamer, and behind me, somewhere in thickening dusk, children call, running across fields.  “Mama?  Mama!”  And they find me and laugh that I’ve chased the moon and I laugh that I have too.  How I laugh and it feels so right.

“Did you catch it?”  Hope-Girl asks, breathless and grinning.

“No, I didn’t catch the curve of the moon.”  I look up, wishing.  “But I did find what I wanted”… what he longed for me to know.

All eye, all eye.

The hills darken black.  We walk up the last knoll, our shadows outlined in the sun smoldering down in the west.  The children talk, laugh, holler.  I am happy.  I smile, slip a hand into a pocket, cool night air drifting in.  I’m no pilgrim at Tinker Creek, no recluse at Walden Pond.  I can’t live in moon moments.  (Could I?)  I live with the broken bodies.  Wasn’t he awakening me to Beauty everywhere, because beauty is the way of the inner eye?  The wheat stubble scratches my legs as I walk the fields.  One hand fingers the hem of my splotchy apron.  I am going back.  I look up, try to find her again.  I’m reluctant to untether from the moon.  The world I live in is loud and blurring and toilets plug and I get speeding tickets and the dog gets sick all over the back step and I forget everything and these six kids lean hard into me all day to teach and raise and lead and I fail hard and there are real souls that are at stake and how long do I really have to figure out how to live full of grace, full of joy – before these six beautiful children fly the coop and my mothering days fold up quiet?  How do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily, domestic, workday vortex and invert it into the dome of an everyday cathedral?  Could I go back to my life and pray with eyes wide open?

Praying with eyes wide open is the only way to pray without ceasing.

If I unwrap eucharisteo down to its next layer, will I find more of the answer?  His love had invited me into this part of the answer – wouldn’t he lead on into the rest?  I half spin apron skirt, half smile – him happiest of all.  Wouldn’t he show me?  The children run on ahead, their voices carrying long through the night coming on.

I come slow up the field, watching their black silhouettes fly, and the mind numbers gifts:

Laughter at twilight
Glow of the front porch light
The last cry of geese

I could live blind, either in black or in blaze.  I’ll be all eye, all blinded by glory.

The windows of home burn bright.


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