When I moved from one of my earlier Congregations, one of the young men gave me a wooden box he had made. It is beautiful and sits in my study, holding letters, cards and photos which are particularly significant. Both the gift from Boothy and its contents are precious, holding memories which are valuable beyond the material.
For me, when difficult days arise, there are strength and comfort in those stories, many of which hold value only to a few, and some, only to me.
I was thinking about the moments in my life when I have experienced wonder, which is more than excitement. There is a tinge – for me – bordering on fear, as well as the awe accompanying the moment.
I remember the two spans of staircase, into the dark, at my grandparents’ home in Sydney. For a five year old it was an unnerving climb past a tall, translucent window, arriving at a hall which I remember being impossibly long and equally dark.
I have stood at Uluru, as rain cascaded down its impervious face, and been whipped by wintry rain at Kata Tjuta, feeling fearful and awe-full altogether.
It was similar to our pilgrimage to, then arrival above, Machu Picchu at sunrise. We tried in vain to comprehend the scope of beauty, crafted by mortal and immortal hands.
I recall lying in the Pattinsons’ front paddock, just shy of midnight, and being drawn, almost hypnotically, into “the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars”.
Despite these scanty sentences, these frail attempts, words are insufficient for the feelings they invoke in me; and Boothy’s wooden box, despite its value, cannot hold them.
What wonder then, in our encounter with the living God? Matthew, Mark and Luke have tried to shape words to articulate the disciples’ wonder, of beholding Jesus’ glory, with characters of old, words from the clouds and light beyond measure.
What wonders have we beheld and find hard to frame, to contain? What blessing of peace, or word of forgiveness, or moment of grace, or anointing of hope have we received? What touch of healing? What voice in our heart, or in our hearing, where God has said yes to us, offering life?
Each of us knows that moment, however distant, even discounted, where we met with the wonder of God. It may simply have been the prayer, or the song, where we knew ourselves loved, more than any verse, sermon or companion could hold.
Each of these is a story worth remembering, and worth the telling. God with us, providing direction for our lives and companionship for the road, even to its ending. And beyond.
Get up, and do not be afraid.