Metaphor

This morning, Friday morning after Thanksgiving, I’m catching up on some chores. My trash needed to go out, giving me a reason to go outside and walk down the hill toward the river.

By chance, at the mid-morning time when I stepped outside, the November sun had swung round far enough to stand directly across the river from me. It’s a cold morning, and the sun climbing high enough to shine down on the river brought up clouds of fog in the valley. So this is what I faced, walking down the hill: glorious bright sun, illuminating huge billows of fog over the river, all brilliant white.

I can’t give you much detail of the scene, because I wanted to look at it and I couldn’t. The sun and all that fog were so intense I could only glance at them, and then immediately look away, eyes watering. I thought, this is how God is. So brilliant and so beautiful, and we want to look at him but we can’t, because he’s too much for us. Our eyes aren’t strong enough for it.

I walked down the hill and got rid of my trash and then turned around for home. And I walked very slowly up the hill, because the scene in front of me was lit in such a unique way by that bright sun and the filtering mist. The bare trees and few bushes still holding green leaves, the grass, the hill and my apartment building, a gorgeous blue sky, even my very ordinary car and the others in the lot, all lent such pure, clear color, slightly luminous, completely harmonious, calm, whole. And I thought, this is what God’s like too. He makes everything in the world clear and pure and real and better, when his light shines on it.

I came back indoors to continue my morning work. I have glasses right now with lenses of the sort that darken in response to strong light, and I never realize it until I enter dimmer light and suddenly can’t see. I walked around, squinting at things and trying to keep working while my glasses adjusted, and thought, this is like God too. Spend enough time looking at him, and the way you see everything else changes.

(It doesn’t change by making everything impossible to see, like wearing sunglasses indoors, though. That metaphor rather falls apart in the middle, I’m afraid. Still, two-and-a-half out of three ain’t bad!)

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