Saturday, August 1, 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.

-Emily Dickinson

I'm fond of Emily Dickinson, that strange and solitary person, whose poems reflect an intense desire for obscurity. Her anonymity can be construed as humility--it should not concern us at all that people do not know us--but for some, a retiring nature is grounded in a profound sense of insecurity and 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...?"(George MacDonald).

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 uniquely hand-crafted by God? You are one of a kind, woven together according to a divine template, intricately "embroidered" (David's word) 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!"

And someday, if you give your self to God, you too will begin to love what he has made, and will forget the self you now abhor. If you could but see yourself now as you will someday be--a lustrous, exquisitely beautiful, immortal being--you would be stupefied.

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 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)"(Quoted by Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica 3a, 38).

So, there is unimagined splendor ahead, but even now, the love of God is at work in you to transform unsightliness into the inexpressible beauty of holiness.

What once was hurt; what once was friction;
What left a mark, no longer sting.
For Grace makes beauty out of ugly things ("Grace" by U2).

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


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