Updated: Sep 19
A Poem by J. Randall Stewart
Did you see His face?
Did He smile?
Did the sun pierce through the dark canopy for a moment?
Did He grace us with a swift and fleeting view of that immense and austere light?
The cloud fills the temple again, all darkness and gloom, and we wait for the fire, thunder, and light, but it never seems to come.
What is this old and worn-out curtain still doing here?
I see the stiches, right down the middle, from where it was once torn, so long ago.
It was a monumental task putting it back together.
Century after decade the long and arduous work went on, with many hands and hearts and minds steadily closing up the light, enshrining Deity in a shroud of darkness again. Who can come near?
Tie the rope around the cloak once again.
Tremble and fear at the sound of those footsteps.
Don’t look, don’t breathe, don’t move.
Wait for the moment of reappearing.
The blessed and nimble priest brings the light out again, but only for a moment.
Only for an hour or two.
Only once a week.
The veil is made by many hands in many ways.
It’s made of foreign languages and strange tongues.
It’s made by degrees and scholars who dedicate their whole lives only to barely peek behind to see the vast expanse of what lies inside.
Row upon row of books and thinkers stretch like threads on the loom.
The warp and woof are intricate and thickly woven to keep simple minds out.
Can you handle even a single glance?
Is it too much?
Will you die when the smoke and thunder peal out from the pulpit?
Does even the pastor now wear a veil?
Who can draw near?
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a living God.
Do not give us that!
Give us a picture.
Give us a dead god.
That seems much more bearable.
Give us a shrine, some candles, and a thick curtain to keep us safe from this living God. Maybe you are worthy to approach, but not us.
Maybe you can worship behind the veil, for a moment, while we worship the pictures you bring back.
But do not give us this living God.
That is too much.
The truth is, we like the veil.
It keeps us safe.
Otherwise, this dangerous God might ask too much, and kill to much of the comfort we don’t want to give up.
A living God is not what we want.
A living God cannot be controlled, or used to control others.
A living God cares not for buildings and furniture.
A living God might just burn the whole place down.
Keep the fire on the altar.
Keep the veil in place.
Keep us safe from this living God.
We prefer to worship you.