Light and darkness, night and day.
We marvel at the mystery of the stars.
Moon and sky, sand and sea.
We marvel at the mystery of the sun.
Twilight, high noon, dusk and dawn.
Though we are mortal, we are Creation’s crown.
Flesh and bone, steel and stone.
We dwell in fragile, temporary shelters.
Grant steadfast love, compassion, grace.
Sustain us, Lord; our origin is dust.
Splendour, mercy, majesty, love endure.
We are but little lower than the angels.
Resplendent skies, sunset, sunrise.
The grandeur of Creation lifts our lives.
Evening darkness, morning dawn.
Renew our lives as You renew all time.
from Siddur Sim Shalom (responsive reading)
(translated from the Hebrew by Rabbi Jules Harlow)
‘How can this be?’ It is time to answer my own question.
I have pondered over this question, trying to look for all the angles of what’s being asked of me; I have troubled over this question and scared myself silly, thinking of all my inadequacies, all the things that can (will) go wrong, all the things that people will think and say of me if I do whatever ‘this’ turns out to be; and I have glimpsed the possibility that I am being invited into a new relationship, a new way of being, a new way of seeing this world, invited into beholding the I AM.
As Sister Maggie Ross puts it, ‘Beholding is not an escape from our humanity or its angst but rather its transfiguration… it is precisely through our wounds that we come to beholding’:
All that God ever asks of people is that they behold, that they engage in the exchange of love by which God who is beyond being, God the creator of all, consents to have us, his creatures, hold him in being, in time and space, even as God is holding us in eternity. God who unfolds being in the creation enfolds to his heart the gift of our selves.
In the second century, Irenaeus emphasized this reciprocity in his famous saying, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive; and the glory of the human person is the beholding of God.” In our self-actualizing, self-authenticating culture, it’s not surprising that only the first half of the saying is usually quoted, but the two clauses are dependent: we cannot be fully alive without the beholding of God, because it is from this beholding that our own truth unfolds, our conceptual life becomes transfigured, and our compassion overflows into service.
(Voice in the Wilderness, Friday 2 April 2010)
Sister Maggie Ross
No matter how dark my darkness gets, I will never be beyond reach of the holy dark of God’s Light.
‘How can this be?’
It is time to answer: “Yes. This can be in me.”
Star of Wonder, Radiant Goodness,
today I turn to you as the Source of Love.
I remember your Light dwelling within me.
Keep me mindful of your transforming presence.
Shine this goodness and love on each person
with whom I come in contact this day.
Draw me to your irresistible love.
I open my whole being to you.
I send your love forth into our world.
May all those who suffer find solace in your love.
May all of creation be at peace.
Joyce Rupp (Advent 2001)
I can only behold this in the dark. Canon 7D. f15. 0.8s. ISO 3200.