Behold

Last Saturday (as I post this, it is now two Saturdays ago… Sorry about that. Been a little pokey lately…) I had one of those life-giving and revelatory mornings – just one of those times of extra awareness of God’s presence. It was nothing grandiose or particularly adventurous, but sometimes the less Instagram-worthy (and especially the less Facebook-worthy) it is, the more it fills your bucket. I managed to get up relatively early to enjoy a cup of coffee and bask in the early sunlight streaming in through the kitchen window. Despite all of the cozy and notably softer places to sit in our house, I often find myself settling onto the kitchen floor to savor the flood of warmth, like God reaching through the window to cover me in a blanket of His personal glory.
 
The cats understand this. Without fail, they will come and join me, stretching out and luxuriating in the sun too. My sunshine babies. Sometimes I’ll lay down right next to them. Right on the green and cream bohemian-like rug that covers most of the matching green tiles of our kitchen. Then I’ll notice just how markedly well that rug hides the little bits of shriveled vegetables flung about during the chopping process or stains from rogue cooking splatters or cat hairballs, and with a sigh, I make a mental note to give it a wash… and straighten it out. It’s nearly always askew or bunched up on one end like an accordion where the cats slid in for a home run. Sometimes I wonder if they play World Series championship games at night when we are in bed. It can be maddening. But not right then. In that moment, the radiant glow of the morning would not be dampened. 

 

Feeling energized, I eventually laced up my Nikes for a morning run. Now, let me clarify briefly: I am not a morning person. I am a morning-person-wannabe. So for me to be getting in a run before at least one or two o’clock (or at all on a weekend, let’s be real) and feeling good about it was a rare treat that I capitalized on. I ran up 11th to 7th and, feeling ambitious, I stopped at the open field next to the skate park to do some extra work. Motivated to tap into that CrossFit juju, I started practicing my handstand walks. It actually went pretty well. If anyone could audibly hear the music life-track that plays in my mind, someone walking by probably would have heard Eye of the Tiger blaring. Rocky Balboa would’ve been proud. 

 

Of course, learning to stand, even if it’s on your hands, is inevitably paired with falling. Again. And again. And again. As I fell and my shoulders fatigued, I took a moment to breathe, lay on my back in the grass and just be present. The blades poked into my body like little hands as if reaching up to anchor me to the earth, make me one with it. I stared up at the wisps of clouds gently curling in the sky like the hems of little girls’ skirts as they twirled, and I felt a sort of awe at the vast expanse of openness between myself and those clouds. Like freedom. It was a lucid moment, a detailed moment, a joyful moment in its most simple form.  

 

God is in those moments.

 

He is in the moments when we are present, aware of right now without regard for what is snagging from behind or looming ahead. Like driving down the road with the windows rolled down after a heavy rain, breathing in the vibrant freshness and feeling like your spirit is renewed and cleansed even as the earth is.  Or like soft, summer nights when the fields become glittering oceans of fireflies. The first time I saw that after moving to Minnesota, I suddenly knew that magic was real. Not like wizards and toadstools, but God’s magic. Love. Like each one of those blinking flashes of fire was a happy thought God has about me – brilliant, numerous, scintillating.  

 

I realized the word for all of this as I lay in that grass with my spirit dancing with those girls in the clouds. The word is to behold. My mind strayed back to a sermon I had recently watched where the speaker was getting all jacked up about the depth of that word and how Jesus used it in his dialogue. To behold is to do so much more than to merely look. Beholding is to gaze intently, to pay attention, to engage all five senses as you perceive something. It’s actively being aware of all the colors and flavors and textures of a moment like capturing a breathing photograph. 

 

I believe Jesus was a master at beholding the world around Him. That’s why He saw the broken and forgotten people that the rest of society saw fit to throw away. It’s why God sees the heart of a man rather than his outward appearance, knowing that the outside may be grossly deviant from what is harbored within. It’s why He can look at us in our stumblings and even our deliberately wrong choices and still say, That’s not who you are. I guess it takes seeing not with the eyes but with the heart to see a heart. His example empowers us to behold those around us, to see them for what God placed inside them rather than what their behavior demonstrates. It allows us to see a little more through His eyes. 

 

To me, beholding is like praying. I felt like God told me once, It’s all in the details. He was referring to writing for me at the time, but it’s so important too for noticing Him and noticing other people. I guess that’s why writing and time with God are so closely connected for me. Writing is like praying.

 

I suppose beholding instead of merely looking is also like the latest trend of “being mindful.” Like an article I just recently read on the Mayo Clinic intranet about using mindfulness to help manage chronic pain. None of these things are new; God and the people who have sought hard after Him have always known the power of mindfulness because it’s how you tap into Him. He has always been mindful of us, and it’s when we take the time to behold, be mindful of those things around us, that we can’t help but notice Him too. 
 
Image taken from: http://www.lifesheringham.co.uk/events/info/behold-april