The sky was cloudy above but clear in the distance towards the sunrise. The effect that was spectacular. Rays of sunlight and an orange glow fell upon the distant mountains creating a magical aura of celestial beauty around the horizon while the cloud above me blotted out the brightness of the sun.
As I said my prayers, it occurred to me that praying often feels like reaching out to that celestial scene. We see God’s awe inspiring beauty in the distance. We are at once captivated by its beauty and drawn to it. And yet we know that for now, it is beyond our reach. Our lives are lived beneath the cloud, seeing the effects of the sun all around us, and yet not fully basking in its glory.
Then something else caught my eye.
A shoal of small fish swimming near the shore, just below the surface of the water. As they swam, some of them came up to the surface and broke the plane of the water to feed. As I watched, some went further, propelling themselves out of the water completely – for a moment breaking free from their watery world before plunging back into the sea.
Why do they do that, I wondered? They gain nothing from it. They cannot live above the surface of the water for anything more that a few brief seconds. Their vision would be just as unadjusted to seeing in air as mine to seeing clearly underwater.
Then I realised that the fish and I were both engaged in the same longing. The desire to reach out beyond our world to that which, for now, is unattainable. The world which is beyond us, of which we see but fleeting glimpses. In the words of Paul we see ‘through a glass darkly’ as we await the time when we will see God in all his glory.
In our prayers we reach out to that fullness of God which is beyond us, enthralled by the beauty we see from afar. And we long for the day when we shall see God face to face.