Love never ends … Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part, then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope and love remain, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8a, 12-13)
When I knew myself nothing but a prize fool in love, I took my pain and foolishness in both hands and quite simply offered them to God, whom I recognized through this last anguish to be the backcloth of my life and my eternal love.
What followed was beyond me to understand.
Whether it was predestined or whether the Heavens had been waiting with an open question to hear an uncomplaining acceptance of this last sorrow, I cannot say.
It felt as though an infinitely complex machine had in all its parts, between one moment and the next, clicked silently into gear and started to work with inexorable power.
I saw face to face at last.
Light streamed down from the sky such as I have never beheld. The sun shone with a new light, as though translucent gold were at its heart. I saw not only the physical sun but the spiritual sun also, which poured down on me as I walked in the garden at Coombe.
The wonder was beyond anything I have ever read or imagined or heard [people] speak about. I was Adam walking alone in the first Paradise. That it was a garden near the outskirts of London in the twentieth century made no difference, for time was not, or had come round again in a full circle. Though I was Adam, I had no need of Eve, for both combined within me. Marriage and maternity fulfilled and surpassed, I had run beyond womanhood and become a human being.
Every flower spoke to me, every spider wove a miracle of intricacy for my eyes, every bird understood that here was Heaven come to earth. Turner must have been seeing the skies as I saw them then – living cloud shapes crossing and recrossing each other as though conversing in form or singing in color.
But there was something more wonderful than the Light within the light – more wonderful than the standstill of time. It was that God walked with me in the garden as He did before the Fall. Whether I saw, whether I walked, He was there – radiant, burningly pure, holy beyond holy.
When I breathed, I breathed Him; when I asked a question He both asked and answered it.
My heart was unshuttered to Him and He came and went at will; my head had no limit or boundary or skull, but the Spirit of God played on me as though my mind were a harp which reached the zenith.
Every prayer was fulfilled, every possible desire for the whole world consummated; for His kingdom had come and I had beheld it with my very eyes. Never again the need to meditate for He was here, to be stood in, sat in, as a child might play on the edges of a great sunny river. And, indeed, I found myself only a child, playing in Him, laughing with Him at the way He was visiting His world. When I stood within Him, He gave and was everything. The years to come, which He showed me as easily as a father shows his child a curious shell beside the great river, held in them no surprise, only wonder and joy. Ω
Sit quietly and wonder: What, through your use of time, money and energy, do you devote yourself to most wholeheartedly? What might it take for God to become your eternal love?
What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of intense reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent.
From Katharine Trevelyan, from ‘Through Mine Own Eyes’. Heaven’s Face Thinly Veiled. Boston: Shambhala, 1998, pp 180-181. #Lent2021. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent, Sanctuary, 2021. Image credit: Rachel Coyne on Unsplash.
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