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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spirituality: “Weathered into Glory” by Margaret Silf

Bryce Canyon in Utah is magical in the predawn hours, when the light of the just-rising sun sets the rock column alight, as if with inner fire.

You could almost imagine that this inner fire is the living afterglow of that first flaring forth of our universe, billions of years ago. The hoodoos are so amazingly beautiful, not because they have acquired layers of grandeur through the millennia, but because they have lost so much. Their beauty is revealed because they have suffered eons of erosion, as the biting winds and the flash floods stripped them down to their essential core. When you go down to the depths of the canyon at dawn, you can meet the Creator at work and tune into this great paradox: creation and destruction are the yin and yang of the one life-generating power we call God.

Could it be that our personal diminishments might also sometimes, reveal a deeper beauty we never guessed was there? I reflect on a few people I have known, whose lives seem to illustrate the truth of this proposition. At the nadir of their lives – perhaps in terminal illness, or in the throes of some tragic event – they seemed to be shining with an inner light that has illumined the lives of those around them.

A story is told of a young girl who had a good singing voice. Her parents didn’t want to put her through the stress of professional musical training unless they were assured that she had a special talent, so they asked a musician friend to give her an informal audition in their home. When she had sung for him, he sat back and considered his verdict. “She sings beautifully,” he said at last. “When her heart has been broken she will sing sublimely.”

The hoodoos tell the same story. These pinnacles were always beautiful. But after having suffered the lashings of wind and water for countless millennia, they have indeed become sublime. Locked up in every rock is a work of breathtaking wonder. Only hardship and erosion, or the sculptor’s chisel, can release it.

Source: Margaret Silf, Compass Points: Meeting God Every Day at Every Turn, pp. 5-6.

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