Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you-nobody-too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! They'd advertise-you know.

How dreary-to be-somebody
How public-like a frog-
To tell one's name-the lifelong June
To an admiring bog.

-Emily Dickinson

I'm fond of Emily Dickinson, that strange and solitary person, whose poems often reflect her penchant for obscurity. Her desire for anonymity could be construed as humility--it should not concern us at all that people do not know us as long as we know people--but for some, a retiring nature is grounded in a deep dislike for oneself: "I'm someone to be kept out of sight."

Perhaps you're like that: wondering why God ever made you, longing to be someone else. But is it not better to be what God has chosen to make you? "For to have been thought about--born in God's thoughts-and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, most precious thing in all thinking. Is it not...?"[1]

David elaborates the same thought in the 139th Psalm, describing himself en utero as God's special creation, pondering "this awesome being that is me!"

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful (Hebrew: awesome!). I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth (his mother's womb), your eyes saw my unformed body (fetus). All the days ordained for me were written in your book (the blueprint for me) before one of them came to be.

Do you realize that you have been thought about and made by God? You are one of a kind, woven together according to a divine template, intricately "embroidered" in your mother's womb, a creation that that has no parallel in the universe. "How is it that you came to be you? God thought about you, and so you grew."

Long before you were born, you existed in God's thoughts. Long before your parents loved or neglected you, your peers admired or rejected you, your teachers, colleagues, and employers encouraged or disheartened you, you were known and loved by Love itself. God saw you and took delight in you. He gazed at what he had made and was glad. He loved it and said, "It is good!"

Someday soon, you'll love it too and will forget the self you now abhor. If you could but see yourself now as you will be one day--a lustrous, exquisitely beautiful, immortal creature--you would be stupefied and strongly tempted to fall on your knees in worship.

I think that is why, at least in part, God allowed his disciples to see his glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. One early Church Father, the so-called Venerable Bede thought so: "By his loving foresight he (Jesus) prepared them (the disciples) to endure adversity bravely by allowing them to taste for a short time the contemplation of their (own) everlasting glory (beauty)."[2]

So, on ahead there is unimagined splendor, but even now, you are being beautified, "metamorphosed" from one degree of glory to the next.[3] The love of God is at work in you to transform unsightliness into the inexpressible beauty of holiness.[4]

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
For Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things [5]

The Love that fills the earth with lovely things is making you lovely. It is happening now. It will go on forever and ever, for there is no end to infinite love.


[1] George MacDonald
[2] Quoted by Thomas Aquinas, Summa 3a, 38
[3] 2 Corinthians 3:18: Paul's exact word, metamorphoomai, means "to change the essential form or nature of something, to become entirely different" (Louw & Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).
[4] Cf., Psalm 149:4: "He (God) is beautifying the humble..."
[5] "Grace," by U2, lyrics by Bono.

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