Lately, we’ve been going to the Byzantine church. When I first went there, I was determined to hide in the foyer and not receive Holy Communion. The only way to receive Holy Communion in the Byzantine Catholic church, when you’re allergic to wheat, is to arrange with the priest ahead of time, walk up to the side door of the iconostasis in the dead silence before the congregation begins their before-communion prayer, and receive a sip of Precious Blood off a spoon, before the priest mixes the two species together in one cup.
But God is so beautiful, I couldn’t stay away. I mumbled my problem to the priest, and he said he’d give me Holy Communion if I came to the front. I stumbled up front, ugly and conspicuous, under the eye of the whole church, praying “hide me in the shadow of Thy wings.”
After Divine Liturgy, at the coffee and doughnut social where I was trying to hide in the corner, people asked about my allergy. A few weeks later someone brought a tray of gluten-free cupcakes to the social. I found myself in actual conversation with real human beings other than my husband, my daughter, and my daughter’s band of ragtag neighborhood friends.
It occurred to me just the other day, that there may be a reason God doesn’t hide me under the shadow of His wings. It occurred to me that every time I prayed, He made me more visible because He likes me. He thinks He made a good creature, and He wants to show me off.Our Father is so much younger than we. He is innocent, and we are not. He’s so unabashed about His loves. When He loves a thing, He wills that we all love it with Him and He keeps on willing that, all the more adamantly when we refuse. He won’t be dissuaded because we are blind; He will only turn up the light until we see. He covers us with His eternal wings, layer after layer of light and glory until we stick out like sore thumbs when we stumble to the front of the church.
Our Father desires that all things hidden be proclaimed from the housetops, not to shame us to but to declare His passionate love.
And our Father is not capable of error. Do you realize what that means?
It means He’s right.
You and I are so beautiful, so worthy of love, that our Father who cannot do wrong wants to make us a light to the nations. He wants every part of us to be revealed to the whole world. And so with everyone. Everyone who has ever lived is that beautiful.
The other day I bought a bright pink dress that doesn’t disguise my tummy off the clearance rack, to wear to church. It’s probably an ugly dress, but I am not ugly in it. Perhaps I’ll get a pearl-beaded flower crown as well.
In the shadow of His wings I take refuge, and I will not be put to shame. His shadow is pure light, light to reveal beauty wherever beauty is found. There is no shame in that.