Unexpected Glory


Middle of last week, I was really feeling it as I was still reading the book of Judges.  I had just finished one of the most horrific stories not just in Judges but in the whole of the Bible (Judges 19 and following – take a few minutes and read it) and I was just feeling “ugh” as I went out to walk with Scout.  We had just gotten a ton of rain the night before and this is what I saw as I looked down from the bridge as we crossed the lake.  

A bunch of crud that had been washed into the lake because of the rains and mud and dirt swirling around just beneath the surface.  Felt like a perfect depiction of how I was feeling at that moment.  

Around that day I had been reading a poem each night called “Breathless” by Carrie Newcomer.  I don’t want to print the whole of the poem (copyright, etc) but it starts with a telling of riding her bike on a country road and a deer beginning to run beside her.  She describes it as a holy moment.  The poem ends with these lines:

And ever since that evening,
The world has felt less weary.  
And I’ve felt surer of the promise,
That what I do not know,
Or might not see coming,
Could leap out in unexpected glory,
At any given moment.  

Breathless by Carrie Newcomer

As I looked at all that floating in the water and continued to reflect back on the story that I read earlier that morning, I went to that poem.  I prayed that I would experience something like the ending of that poem – some kind of unexpected glory.  

Well, I did experience something but I think it was a weed.  

It was this  – this weed that was above the flooded path that surrounded the lake.  With the grey skies that morning and the still waters, it looked like it was surrounded by mirrored glass.  I just stopped and took it in and gave thanks for that little bit of unexpected glory.  

But do I think that God brought that moment into my life because I prayed that prayer?  I don’t think so.  But what I believe did happen was that praying that prayer and praying that poem opened my heart to looking for where that unexpected glory might appear.  But I don’t believe that it was only that singular moment either, however.  It was a long-term tuning of my heart towards those moments of unexpected glory that allowed me to see that moment last week.  It was the intentional choices that I have sought to live out of gratitude, beauty, and wonder that I believe allows moments like this to appear.  

As I type this, I am listening to the guitar album of a friend of mine and thinking about how Max plays his guitar each day and, while tuning is necessary every day, it is less tuning that is necessary when he’s picking up the guitar daily rather than every six months.  Not only the tuning but the practice of playing.  

So, all that is to say…the more that you practice gratitude, looking for beauty, being expectant of wonder, the more you will experience those things even if your metaphorical (or literal) day is grey and the waters under the bridge are filled with crud.  In one of Carrie Newcomer’s songs (Where the Light Comes Down) she has this lyric:

It took awhile before I saw
That the world is mostly made of ache and awe

Where the Light Comes Down by Carrie Newcomer

We often don’t have to look very hard to find the ache but when we are looking, I believe that we can find the awe as well, even if it is just a weed poking up from a flooded path.  

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