It’s early when I walk past the playground, and the swings hang empty, waiting. No one plays on the slide. There’s a stillness here that could just be the calm of early morning, but in these days of masks and closures and medical health officer orders, the emptiness feels like grief.
Will the little people come on this day when new covid orders have been put in place, or will families stay at home, safe behind closed doors?
“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said, and here in the quiet I feel the weight of that.
But there’s another weight here too, a balancing glory, a grounding hope. Beside the climbing bars, two trees flame in the morning sun, reaching up, up toward the summoning light, pouring the reflected glory into the surrounding stillness.
A whole line of trees flame, sentinels of hope, stewards of glory. They catch light and cast shadow, early morning declarations of the truth of life in this world: there is pain and glory; suffering and hope; evil and death-conquering, emptiness-filling, world-healing Good that has the final word. Good that is the final Word, and the first Word: Jesus.
And—this is important—the grief and the glory aren’t opposed. Nor are the suffering and hope. As I look at the glory standing tall beside the emptiness, and in it, I want to leap or skip—or kneel. I want the beauty to enter me and I it, want to be part of the glory that transforms its corner of the world into a place that invites me to take off my shoes in worship.
And the wonder? We get to do just this, carrying the glory along with the fragility as we keep gazing at that first and final Word, Jesus.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [or reflect] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. . . .
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor 3:18-4:7, NIV)