In the Distance

IN THE DISTANCE

READ:  Hebrews 11:1-16

“All these people [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah] died in faith… before receiving that which was promised.  But they beheld their hope in the far distance and then embraced that hope,  recognizing that they were but strangers and pilgrims on this earth.  Those who speak of themselves in these terms make it quite plain that they are in search of a homeland.  But if they had meant the country from which they had come, they would have returned to that country, but, in truth, they were longing for a better homeland…” – Hebrews 11:13-16a

inthedistance
Behold the far distant hope and draw it near!

Behold the far distant hope and draw it near!

An aspect of my diabetes is the effect that it has on my eyes.  My vision is slowly diminishing.  My retinas are relentlessly deteriorating, leaving floating debris within my eyes.  Now and then, my eyes are filled with occasional lightning flashes as pieces of retina tear away.  With the passing of time, the light in my eyes will slowly dim.   Yet, I pray and I do believe though my physical vision is weakening, my other forms of vision might be strengthening.

The other day, while I sat in the ophthalmologist’s office, I was [I suppose with a certain sense of desperate irony] reading the medical posters on his office walls.  One poster spoke of some of the most common afflictions of the eye.  The poster taught how some people’s vision is limited by being near-sighted, some by being far-sighted, and some by being distorted with astigmatism.

Later as I sat in the softened light of his office waiting for the medication to clear from eyes, I began to reflect spiritually upon those three limitations that can beset one’s vision – near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and the distortion of astigmatism.  My thoughts drifted to a devotional recently given by the Abbot to the Brothers and Novices of Greyfriars’ Abbey.  Among his sensitive and insightful commentary of our passage from the Letter to the Hebrews were the words with which I began this writing …“Behold the far distant hope and draw it near!”  The Abbot went on to share how the contemplative life helps the pilgrim to see further into the far horizon and yet helps the pilgrim to see more clearly that which is nearby.  And this strengthening of vision is accomplished by … clearing away the debris in one’s soul so that one’s soul can see clearer and clearer.

Behold the far distant hope and draw it near!

My contemplative journey has helped me realize that our modern life -[yet again, maybe it has always been the case with our human existence] – is struggling with blindness.  We suffer from near-sightedness; and at very same time, we suffer from far-sightedness; all the while, our social astigmatism is distorting it all.

Listen carefully to the voices of our times … Is there any mention of our far-distant hope?  Is there any mention of our far-distant hope?  Where are we headed?  What is our Promised Land?  Can we still lift our eyes and behold a heaven on the far distant horizon?

Listen carefully to the voices of our times … Is there much talk of beauty?  Is there much talk of beauty?  Is there much conversation about a growing awareness of the wonders all around us?  Are we so blinded by the tint of our own glasses that we no longer can see clearly the world about us?  Can we still behold together the actual splendors found in this glorious moment in the unfolding of Eternity? Can we still look about us – in the here and the now – and see God’s kingdom breaking into this earthly realm in the times and places through we are presently traveling?

Listen carefully to the voices of our times … even the voices that bounce around within the caverns of our soul … Are we still seeing life with clear vision or somehow has our vision become clouded with self-interest and cluttered with debris?

At Greyfriars’ Abbey, you will sometimes come across a monk sitting on a bench gazing far into the distance.  And at Greyfriars’ Abbey, sometimes you will come upon a monk studying the petals of a dandelion or the wings of a Monarch butterfly.  And at Greyfriars’ Abbey, sometimes you will come upon a monk sitting with his eyes closed in prayer.  And with each of these, you will be witnessing souls practicing the vision of contemplation.

The old Gospel song describes salvation in this way …”Once I was blind, but now I see.”  ‘Tis so true, so true!

Behold the far distant hope and draw it near!

Pax,

Brother Anthony of the Cross
(jim mcwhinnie)

— Visit my poetry site, Willow Words, by clicking www.willowwordspoetry.wordpress.com .
Also visit my new Psalter site for a reading of the Psalms www.thepsalmsbybrotheranthony.wordpress.com

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