Those shining faces
Psalm 119: 132-136 (NRSVA)
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your custom towards those who love your name.
133 Keep my steps steady according to your promise,
and never let iniquity have dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears
because your law is not kept.
I was recently reminded of a GK Chesterton quote I love from the book ‘Orthodoxy’, “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Maybe the shining face of God is less austere than we sometimes imagine. Yes, of course God is glorious and we are told it can be hard to look at him. But the shining faces in my life at the moment — the faces which bring me light, warmth and blessing — are the faces of my two granddaughters on every video call or in every photo. As Chesterton describes, these two little humans are vital, fierce and free; with the ability of infancy to delight in the same things again, and again, and again.
If life over the last few months has seemed dull or monotonous, or without value because we haven’t had our usual ‘achievements’ or novelties, maybe we aren’t looking at things the right way. What might it feel like to look at the teaching of God and see it the way a baby does, as something new and delightful to explore, even if it is the same thing he taught us yesterday?
Lord, when I see their faces, my soul lights.
It really does, I can feel it.
I can look at them hundreds of times in a row and never get tired of looking.
What a gift they are
Their shining faces cutting through the murkiness of the dullest day.
Teach me not just to see them, but to see like them.
To look at the world with passion, determination and interest.
To consider each day with a fresh appetite.
Teach me to exalt in the everyday
Shine your face on me Lord
Your vital, ancient, youthful, ageless face.
That I might reflect your delight.