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Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...

 

Honeyed light

I am a psalm a day sort of girl. The psalms are a door to me, a portal of entry into that room I seek every single morning where God waits, waits, for me to join him. Those words, all cadenced in sorrow and struggle, awe, joy, are the best way I know to chant my brain into the hushed wonder that becomes my key in the lock of God's presence.

I do have my favorites though. There are a few that come to me now and then like pieces of gold dropped in my hand, or rare, limpid summer days. They are full, rich, and just what I want. They are the ones that dwell on a world made right by the Messiah. In these Psalms, the red of struggle, the dark and dusk of anguish, even the taut grey of hope deferred in patience, all fall away, and there is only gold. Light. That inner glow that rises from every created thing being just as whole as it was meant to be.

To read them is like peering at a painting by an artist like Vermeer, or Caravaggio, or the Hudson River Valley school, those masters whose brushes somehow caught the light of a world purer than our own. Vermeer's The Milkmaid, where the light dots the corner of bread and jug and the girl's hands at their work are a slow, holy dance. Or the landscapes of Thomas Cole, with light on the mountains like it must have been in Eden, with every leaf and fisted branch gilded in this still, honeyed glow. Each color is richer for the quiet, as if the world were at its deepest peace and the zenith of joy all at once. Those paintings, and my psalms, dwell on the world I need to be true. I could not keep walking the days of my life if I did not have these pictures, these golden images of promise to speed me on the way to the perfect world that is coming. But the psalms especially, also picture for me exactly what I must try to live, every day. To read this morning that:

God will deliver the needy. Has compassion on the poor. Will rescue the poor from oppression and violence. There will be an abundance of grain in the earth and on top of all the mountains. That those from the city will flourish. That God's name will increase as long as the sun shines. That all nations will call him blessed...

The words are brushes stroking a mighty picture in my mind of shelter and arms strong to save, of hands reaching to fallen people, homes built up for the lonely. Health, and friendship. And also an earth, a life, ripe with beauty. A world rich "in grain," in feasting and festival. The celebration of a world and a people, remade and righted by the Beautiful One. It grows up in my inner mind as this great mural that is the example by which I strive to live my small days, because those words picture the mighty creation that is in process even now. The process of redemption, the kingdom of heaven, is here. And I join it, I join it, when I live it out in my life. By loving those close to me, and bringing those close who are lonely. By fashioning a home, a life, with the artistry of love, and a sense of stewardship for all the beauty God has handed me. By saving the poor, the lonely, the ones who need food or clothing, or just the kindness of a caring touch. By being a light of truth that heals to those blinded in spirit, to those who have never heard truth, or had love.

And glory grows up, ripe, and quiet, all around.