All Things Bright and Beautiful

I have been finishing up a number of projects on my desk, always satisfying, and looking ahead to preparing materials for our Sunday Summers in the Church School at our local parish. This year the theme is “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” We’ll plant flowers (and water them too), sing the hymn, hear stories about God’s creation, and do simple crafts. My favorite is always the singing.

So just now I sent to the printer the final draft of Raymond Raynes’ Darkness No Darkness, a series of retreat meditations that our American Church Union is republishing this summer. Father Raynes, late Superior of the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, England has planted many seeds in many souls with his remarkable words. Now, his words fill my thoughts, banning the darkness, shining bright light into newly discovered rooms in my own heart:

I am to be the home of Christ; Christ is to be the life of my soul.  I am to be an agent because Christ dwells in me, and I am in his hands, I am to be an agent of eternal charity. The moment we realize this, the tension begins – the pressure on our conscience.

It is as though the many strands of our faith are woven together in these pages to make them more concrete, more visible, more… useful. I find when I understand the economy of heaven and earth, the will and plan of God, my life becomes more sane. In this case, to be the home of Christ and Christ to be my life (not just in my life) is an image and idea that has bordered my thoughts the last few days. On other pages in this short book Father Raynes speaks of our hearts uniting with Christ’s heart, so that the Christian burns with the fire of God, the fire of love.

And so this morning as we celebrated the Feast Days of St. Peter and St. Paul, I could see how Christ took over that big fisherman’s heart and moved right in. St. Peter must have felt that tension the moment he left his fishing nets behind, and the pressure grew, not making him perfect but pulling him toward perfection, to be an agent of eternal charity, a bold conduit for the love of God on earth. And St. Paul’s transformation on the way to Damascus was equally dramatic, turning this brilliant Pharisee into the world’s greatest theologian, one who would explain in stunningly poetic passages the charity of God, the movement of the holy into the earthly, Christ into us and we into him.

It’s a simple idea, really, being the home of Christ, to be always listening for the nudge of the Holy Spirit, to truly see those around us. It is a truth, a reality, that grows when watered by worship and prayer and sacraments. Slowly, the tension, the pressure on the conscience, is eased if not resolved, and we sense more and more that Christ is indeed dwelling within us and we in him. The light shines in the darkness. We see.

We surely can’t do this alone, but only through his Body on earth, the Church. This is good news, joyful news. For through the Church I can enjoy Christ’s movement toward me, his making his home in my heart with each prayer, each Eucharist, each confession and absolution. We need only say yes and the drama begins in each of us.

It is when the created creature, man, welcomes the Creator and their hearts become one that all makes sense. All things are bright and beautiful, wise and wonderful… It is when Love enters our world again and again on every altar and into every soul that life becomes true-ly de-light-full. For then we know, as the Psalmist wrote, darkness is no darkness:

Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit? or whither shall I go then from thy presence?
If I climb up into heaven, thou art there; if I go down to hell, thou art there also.
If I take the wings of the morning, and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there also shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me; then shall my night be turned to day.
Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as the day; the darkness and light to thee are both alike.      (Psalm 139:6-12)

Indeed, time shall fly on the wings of the morning, but all the while God’s hand shall lead me; he shall hold me in his palm. For I am cradled, always, in the bright love of God.

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