Now and Forever: Two Perspectives

English: The side wall of St John The Divine.Last week I took part in the wedding of a dear friend. I journeyed thousands of miles and missed my five-year college reunion to be there, and never for a moment did I question whether it was worth it. The joyful thought of celebrating this union was so great that nothing could have held me back. I decked myself in flowers and cried through the ceremony and signed my name to their wedding vows. Then I feasted and drank wine and danced like the silly, shameless white girl I am until they shut us down.

That day I saw two lives become one life, witnessed the eternal becoming visible. It was a great mystery. I practiced for the great Wedding to which I’ll someday be called. Hopefully when I get the invitation I’ll drop everything and run with a joy that cannot be held back.

The next morning I was cruel to a friend. It was nothing particularly horrendous, just a common cruelty like so many I’ve inflicted on my loved ones over the years. I swore and snapped and brushed away a hand that tried to comfort me. I lost my temper, lost my faith in the love that had danced through me the night before, that it could carry me though the sadness and uncertainty of the morning.

That morning I saw Christ in my friend’s face, in the blunt betrayal she felt, the stricken tenderness of her eyes. And I saw Peter in the mirror. Peter, whose promises of love until death still rang in his ears as his lips betrayed his friend. Peter, who chose to bask in the warmth of a fire and his own pride rather than brave the darkness of a brief night. Peter, who was forgiven and, despite everything, given more chances to say, “You know I love you.” Thank God, I was given that chance too.

Then I visited New York City for the first time. In the crush of bodies and the chaos of lights I felt like an alien on earth. I saw marble cathedrals swarming with angels but almost empty of humans. I saw Times Square, objects of desire all over everything, ludicrously larger than life. I walked the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I saw the face of Christ all over the walls, and then I looked away and it was all around me too.

I could see all the sights of New York and look right past what was truly worth noticing. If my faith is true, the most magnificent buildings will erode to marble dust and every light in the metropolis will burn out someday, but human beings will last forever. If my faith is true, I just walked among over eight million unique, irreplaceable, handcrafted works of art, more valuable than anything in any museum.

Jesus offers a change in perspective to those with eyes to see. He invites me to see things his way every day. These are the glimpses I try to see through the darkness of my smudged glasses. When the light behind my eyes is darkness, everything seems meaningless, random, and cruel. But when my eyes flood my body with light, I see every moment as an echo of forever.

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