Tuesday, July 12, 2005

hope holds to Christ

My tantrum of last week has wound down, and as always, when I quiet down enough, I begin to hear the voice of God comforting and challenging me in new ways. I find that it is after my little rebellions that I learn even more completely what my shortcomings are... but also how to accept them. I am not perfect, and even when I do make progress in the right direction, it is slow, often painfully so. I am impatient and a perfectionist, and I am not happy with this slow progress. It's like watching trees grow. I can see the little, day-to-day changes, but I'm convinced they're not actually growing. What I am learning about hope, though, is that you don't have to see the progress to believe that it will happen.

One of my favorite scripture passages was read at Church on Sunday, Romans 8:18-23, which then goes on to say, "For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance." I do not hope for what I see, then, but I wait. This is not a passive waiting either, but one that actively seeks to bring about the change that I hope for.

I know I probably should not talk about poems here. I know nothing about poetry, and my interpretations are almost certainly wrong, but I enjoy them, and if my interpretations are wrong, at least they are interpretations that appeal to me. So I will put here a beautiful poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

HOPE holds to Christ the mind’s own mirror out
To take His lovely likeness more and more.
It will not well, so she would bring about
An ever brighter burnish than before
And turns to wash it from her welling eyes
And breathes the blots off all with sighs on sighs.
Her glass is blest but she as good as blind
Holds till hand aches and wonders what is there;
Her glass drinks light, she darkles down behind,
All of her glorious gainings unaware.
. . . . . . . .
I told you that she turned her mirror dim
Betweenwhiles, but she sees herself not Him.

The picture I have in my mind as I read this poem is a girl holding a mirror in front of herself. It is dark, and she washes it over and over, trying to see in it the image of God. The poem says, though, that is appears dark because she sees herself, not Him. So if God is reflected in the mirror, where is He? He is being reflected not to her, but to those around her. If we let our tears dry on the glass, all people will see is a filthy mirror, but instead of letting our tears dry on the glass and make it dirty, we must use these tears and sighs to clean the glass. We cannot always see the good we do, and we cannot always see how near Christ is to us. It is one of the trials of this world. But God can do good through us, if we let Him.

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