Archive for beatific vision

A little lectio

Deliver me, O Lord, by your hand 
from those whose portion in life is this world;

Whose bellies you fill with your treasure, 
who are well supplied with children
and leave their wealth to their little ones.

But at my vindication I shall see your face; 
when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding
your likeness.

Psalm 17: 14-16


These three verses spoke to me today. “Deliver me…from those whose portion in life is this world.”  It’s a striking description of the dynasties of wealth and power that control the earth and fill the news. It sums up their reach through time and the limits of that reach. And I love the way that vindication–satisfaction–comes on the other side of death. Are the wicked destroyed? Did they ever suffer? It doesn’t matter. The powerful have had their time, and we wake to behold the face of God.


A New Testament verse also struck me, and it felt like a sort of defiant acceptance of self–a sentiment with which I am familiar.  Perhaps, if you’ve ever felt out of step with the rest of humanity, you’ll know what I mean.


…by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.

I Corinthians 15: 10a

Soar away

Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church
Photo credit: J.Stephen Conn


I want a sober mind,
An all sustaining eye,
To see my God above,
And to the heavens fly.

I’d soar away above the sky,
I’d fly to see my God above.

I want a Godly fear,
A quick discerning eye,
That looks to Thee my God,
And see the tempter fly.

Tune: A. Marcus Cagle, 1935
Words: Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1814


A perfect marriage of text and tune: the stern austerity of the lines about sobriety and Godly fear breaks into an ecstatic fugue as the singer soars upward to see God.  A hymn about vision and transport.


A heart bright as a mirror


Thought for a beautiful spring morning…


A heart that would contemplate must be bright as a mirror, shimmer like some still stretch of water crystal clear, so that in it and through it the mind may see itself, as in and through a mirror, an image in the image of God.  The heart that covets the sight of God as in a mirror must keep itself free from cares, from harmful, unnecessary and even necessary ones.  It must keep itself ever alert through reading, meditation and prayer.  Blessed are the pure of heart; they shall see God.  May he grant that we do so. Amen.


Isaac of Stella (d. 1169)
English Cistercian
translated by Hugh McCaffery

From In the School of Love: An Anthology of Early Cistercian Texts, selected and annotated by Edith Scholl, Cistercian Publications, 2000.

Behold the star


For years my parents have hung a Moravian Star throughout Advent and Christmas and on up to Epiphany, and when I think of Epiphany, this is the star that appears in my imagination.  It’s the star I think of, more than the Wise Men, probably because the star gives me hope.  Hope that God will give me a sign, a light in the darkness, that he won’t leave me wandering and stumbling, trying to get to Him without any help.  It’s why I love the hymn, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” –which to my mind is not really a child’s hymn, though I’ve taught it to children and been warmed by their singing.

In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

 A blessed Epiphany to us all.

Faith is your steering wheel

You’re probably familiar with images of the Old Ship of Zion and the Gospel Train, but in 1957 the Dixie Hummingbirds updated the mode of transportation for the journey to heaven.  “Christian’s Automobile” features the incomparable Ira Tucker, who sang with the group for an astonishing 70 years.  Like many of the gospel train songs, this one is both serious and playful as the metaphor gets stretched further and further.  Tucker tells us

You gotta check on your tires
You got a rough road ahead
And when you are weary from your journey
God will put you to bed….

You’ve gotta check on your lights
And see your own faults
Stop while you can see them, children
Or your soul will be lost….

But my favorite image comes at the end, when Tucker sings:

And I’m not worried
About my parking space
I just want to see,
See my Savior face to face

What better way to express “I go to prepare a place for you” and the hope of the beatific vision at the time when Americans dreamed of seeing the U.S.A. in a Chevrolet.

Prayer is your driver’s license.