readily perceived by the eye or the understanding; evident; obvious
Unclench your fists
Hold out your hands
Let us hold each other
This is his glory
Madeleine L'Engle, from "The Irrational Season"
"Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world." - Teresa of Avila
Some weeks ago I wrote about being brushed by God's glory, or "kabod". (See that post here.) It was a physical manifestation of glory that stopped me in my tracks. The glory of God's creation is "readily perceived by the eye", it is "evident" and "obvious".
God's glory perceived through "understanding", though, is God's glory perceived through love, evident and obvious in our hearts. Understood in our hearts, while remaining beyond the comprehension of our minds. Each time we take a step to come closer in love and compassion to one another, God's glory is made manifest. Even the smallest acts of kindness involving a stranger are glimpses of glory.
But as Madeleine L'Engle so beautifully expresses, we must first unclench our fists and stop holding on to ourselves. We must open our hands and hearts and hold them out. We must hold each other. It sounds so simple and easy, yet it may be the single hardest thing we do as humans. We want to be in control, we don't want to let go and let down our protective shields. We're selfish. We're afraid.
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
— C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
Even when we do unclench our fists, open our hands, let down our shields, even then, if we are honest, we'll admit that there are times when God's glory seems mysteriously distant. Our spiritual gas tanks run dry. We have no energy to reach out - to be Christ's eyes, hands, and feet. Sorrow, worry, fear, and despair weigh us down.
And yet God's love is there, always there. It is there in those who love us, pray for us, care for us, cry for us, and hold us tight. It is there through tragedy, as it has been in the aftermath of the destructive tornadoes this Spring. It was there in that convenience store beer cooler when the young man called out to the strangers he was with, over the noise of the storm, "I love you! I love you guys!" It was there on the Southwest Airlines flight when the woman held the hand of the stranger next to her, thinking that if they were going to die, they should each be holding someone's hand. It is there in every kind word and gesture, in every smile, in every tear. It is God's love that I think of when I hear Patty Griffin sing "All that I want is one who knows me. A kind hand on my face when I weep."
It is here holding my family together as we support my brother through the days of brain cancer treatment. It is with every person and every family who suffers. Don't look for it with your eyes. Don't try to understand it with your mind. Feel it. Feel the kind hand on your face when you weep. "This is his glory manifest."