Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Fog of Holy Mystery

What do you think of when you hear the phrase 'holy mystery'? Desert mystics wandering in flowing robes? Gilded saints on chapel ceilings? Incense streaming toward Heaven? I confess to having barely a vague knowledge of the mystery of the Divine. Holy mysteries are inchoate ideas at best, dark shadows in my head at most – nothing substantial enough to put into words. 

Today, however, I began to understand that holy mysteries are something akin to the fog filling up the bowl of the valley, pouring in over the lip of the foothills. The veil of mist hides familiar mesas and canyons. I know something of what is behind the veil from seeing the low hills on clear days. Perhaps holy mysteries are something like that, where most days all I see through the fog are blunted edges and shapes fading into grey. Then, for a moment, the clouds swirl up and I can see more clearly what is really there, only to be enveloped again the next minute. Knowing God is like that, moments of clearly seeing beyond the edge of the fog, seeing the substance further in, and then the shade descends again.

In other ways, I know the mystery of the Divine like a solitary bird flying off into the mist, its lone cry echoing back my heart's. Winging its way along it is swallowed by the depths and layers of cloud. I wonder if it will find a flock to join, or a place to rest its weary wings. So, too, I muse whether I will be able to rest my fainting soul, or find a flock with whom I fit. Or will I just fly into the grey and be lost? Is there anything real beyond what I can see? In the swirling moments I believe there is, because I have seen the shapes become solid. Yet, even when the mist o'ershadows the mountains I know by Beauty and by sense that there is more. More than the glimpses. Things more real than I can see or touch. I don't know how I know, but I do. Ah! There it is, the divine mystery: Beauty moves us toward the reality so real that we can only see shadows of it now. One day we shall see it –see Him– face to face.

For a moment the slow-pouring fog shifts and I know that when I want to enter into Beauty itself – when I want to be the sunset, or the symphony swelling, or the seagull on the wing – those aching moments are when the Divine pierces to my heart, like a shaft of sun through a storm cloud. I still cannot see what is to come, but I know the sun is there, and there are solid things beyond the shrouding mist. 

The beauty of this world is like layer upon layer of dark fog and storm clouds, melting the edges of evening into night. But the Beauty of the world beyond, the world to come, the redeemed world will be the crisp lines of leaf edges against a blue sky, of dappling shade, of falling leaves and sifting snow, of a forest of firs, and rocks upon rocks to climb and feel and see. It will be more, different, deeper. It will be like a keen wind in our lungs. We will be wonderstruck, as if seeing silver stars for the very first time. It will be layer upon layer of real... And there will still be those thin stratus clouds all salmon and coral and purple at sunset. The Divine will be fleshed out, walking among us again, and we will be new and able to see

~ Johanna

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