Light from the lamp above me caresses the page of my open book gently. Outside, the fall wind moans, all the sorrow of dreaming trees and dropping leaves breathing through the world. There are no stars tonight, just the dark clouds in the darker sky.
But I’m not paying attention to the outside world or the inside. My soul is running with the printed words down the pages. This book that’s captured my imagination is Phantastes by George MacDonald and I read enthralled of adventures in Faery land, of the man who sang to lift the shadow hiding his beloved – the White Lady, the spirit of marble, the maiden waiting to be pursued, drawn out. He sings of the beauty gradually being revealed before his eyes,
Rise the limbs, sedately sloping,
Strong and gentle, full and free;
Soft and slow, like certain hoping,
Drawing nigh the broad firm knee.
Up to speech! As up to roses
Pants the life from leaf to flower,
So each blending change discloses,
Nearer still, expression’s power….
Bands and sweeps, and hill and hollow
Lead my fascinated eye;
Some apocalypse will follow,
Some new word of deity.
Zoned unseen and outward swelling,
With new thoughts and wonders rife,
Queenly majesty foretelling,
See the expanding house of life!….
Build thy slopes of radiance beamy,
Spirit, fair with womanhood!
Tower thy precipice, white-gleamy,
Climb unto the hour of good.
Dumb space will be rent asunder,
Now the shining column stands
Ready to be crowned with wonder
By the builder’s joyous hands…..
And on and on the words rise and fall like waves in an ocean. The grandfather clock beside me begins to chime the hour, and I know I should have been in bed long ago. Lingering regretfully, I slowly close the book and climb the stairs to bed.
But the image of the man singing, the she-beauty being revealed, the majesty and glory of that moment, it just doesn’t sleep inside of me.
There’s life and death and shrouding and shadow all around me these days. The leaves they change colour merrily, in bursts of red and yellow, then fall listlessly to their death beds. The morning sun surprises no morning mist as in Congo-land, but instead glows golden on dew and makes haloes around fuzzy tennis balls and fluffy poodles. Each breath expelled makes an explosion of frozen droplets in the cold morning air, and all the cold works hard to cover, to mist, to obscure, to kill.
And the the shadow is in my soul too, those days I fight to not pay attention to the whispers around me…I am ugly, I can’t do anything right (I can’t even use a dishwasher or clean a counter proper!), I’m wasting my days, I’m making that monster of self-pity into my private pet, I’m drifting from Jesus….drifting… like those leaves falling to the ground. I shroud myself in sorrow and sin seeps in and colours me with it’s own shades of night and death.
Jesus became my ugliness. I am His beauty.
I repeat it again and again, a lifeline for my soul, trying to pierce the shadows with the truth. This is the truth – I am holy and blameless, beloved and pursued.
I know it like I know my name – that God, my victorious God, is the One who sings over His children in exuberant song. He rejoices over me, delights in me.
Never before did I really see why.
But as the world spins around and the darkness lingers longer, I think I see the light. See why. God looks at me and He sees the beauty of His son – the reflection of Himself. He sees the glimmers of His beloved behind the shadow, the holiness of truth He bled to plant in me. And He sings. The triune God, the immortal, all-knowing God, sings His overflowing joy and delight at the beauty He sees – in me?! And as He sings, the shadow lifts and more is revealed. More of the image of His son, the mirror shining His love and purity back brighter each day.
Was it the first time that God touched dirt, when He fashioned a man? He breathed His breath, His image into that man and he stood. It was good. And the holy God, he touched sin for the first time when He came to earth. He opened His heart to carry our crimes, He opened His hands for the punishment they required. Now to awaken the beloved into fullness of life, these children created in His perfect image, He begins a melody that shakes the heavens and confounds all comprehension…..
And deep in my heart, I am all woman. I long for this pursuing, this calling out, yes, even the admiration and acknowledgment of my beauty. Thrills go through my heart whenever that sweet song echoes in the dusty corners of my daily life.
And when the shadow is fully lifted, when the song has reached crescendo, my eyes will be uncovered and I will gaze on the face of the One who set me free, who called me out, who breathed spirit into me, who sang song over me.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, that I may gaze on Your beauty and be filled with Your fullness!