I Wish You Could See Her

Blog / Produced by The High Calling

I wish you could see her as I see her, for I look at her with the eyes of a lover, a father, a child, and a connoisseur.

The stories in her book, aged for millennia, have an archetypal patina that cannot be forged. Devoted scholars study them and parse them and weigh a thousand considerations before lifting them carefully into our modern light. It is appalling when they are handled roughly and pulled naked and cold from their contexts to be used for some modern end or for the amusement of jeering crowds.

But oh, those stories. The shocking vulnerability of the deeply flawed heroes and the gentle rocking sound of the repetitive Hebrew poetry. The burning anger of the prophets and the innocent frankness of the psalms. The angel light over Bethlehem when the world was ripe and time was full. HIS tenderness and savage honesty rolling over us until we can do nothing more than grasp at the hem of his robe as he marches toward the place of the skull. Then the twelve jesters, changed in a baptism of fire, turning the world upside down before solemnly lining up to die. The proud rise of Antioch and the sad but inevitable decline of Jerusalem.

As a new bride she sold everything and laid it at the feet of the apostles. She balanced Paul on one arm and James on the other while her Jewish and Gentile children wound themselves through her legs, fighting and struggling. And now her rites and rituals span two thousand years and as many cultures. The height of her cathedrals, the simplicity of little wooden churches, the constancy of her Orthodox, the beauty of her liturgists, the pragmatism of her evangelicals, the hope we all carry, the tie that binds us.

Fool that I am, I keep faith with her despite the stories in the news, the jokes, and the public failures. When Advent comes I close my eyes and dare hope that this year her tender bud will finally bloom into glorious flower.

But you do not see her as I see her. I know. I understand. Her reputation is tarnished and her book is long and unfamiliar. Her worldview seems simplistic and her rituals esoteric. I would give you my eyes if I could, but I cannot. So take my words instead.

See what large letters I have written with my own hand.

Gordon Atkinson. Photo by Andrew.