Dawn and the Morning Star

“You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” – 2 Peter 1:19

As I read through today’s passage from the Second Letter of Peter, I was captured by this sentence.  A mature faith is the result of a transformation in consciousness, the writer implies.  It’s lovely language: the morning star rising.  The sun hasn’t yet appeared, but it is coming, and we know it.  Sunrise colors – salmon, turquoise, purple – begin to light the horizon.  And here is the star, a beacon of what is to come.

Here is how I read the promise being offered.  We can hang onto the words of the eyewitnesses of the Transfiguration, and follow the lead of the apostles as they live as followers of Jesus, the Christ.  This is the first stage of faith.  It’s the realization that the stories are real and have impacted the lives of countless people around and before us.  We can take upon us the actions that Christ calls us to, accompanying and advocating for those less fortunate, giving generously, praying.  But then there will come a time when a new awareness dawns in us like the rising of the morning star.  We’ll know the truth directly and immediately for ourselves.

Personally, I always live between these two ways of knowing.  Most of the time I have only the words of the apostles, of the saints, and of my fellow pilgrims on the Way of Christ to guide me.  I’m sustained by their stories.  For instance, there’s the story in the Gospel of Matthew where we hear about the Transfiguration.  Or Julian of Norwich writes about her revelation of the hazelnut.  Or a friend shares how she was called to the priesthood as her husband was cooking a pot of spaghetti.  I attend to these tales as though they are porch lights guiding my way home in the dark.

Then comes a moment when the day dawns.  I see a spider web gilded with rain drops, each one reflecting a bit of the world, and I am shocked into understanding.  I apprehend the reality of total connectedness that exists behind the illusions of division and separateness.   I feel my beloved saints present with me.  I understand that I am never lost or alone or forgotten. I feel God breathing with me as I sing or walk or write.   I do the work I have been given to do with a kind of joyful expectancy.

These moments disappear before too long.  Maybe one day I will live in the place of totally transformed consciousness, but that is not happening today.  I fall back into that shell of aloneness, into thinking that it’s all up to me.  But, still, a deposit of new awareness is left behind.  It’s easier to remember that dawn is possible when I’ve experienced it before.  The stories sustain me – others’ and my own.

The trick is to refrain from judging myself for not being in that place of transformed consciousness all the time.  I’m not, but there is nothing I can do about that except to make room.  I can set aside time to write, to pray, or to just gaze around me.  I can live in a place of whole imagining and gentle wonder.  But the transformation is not up to me.  I can only go as far as I can go, and then it’s a matter of God’s grace.  It will forever be grace that sets me free.

Beloved, we live in hope of new life and awareness of your kingdom.  May the day dawn and the morning star rise in our hearts.  Amen.

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