Gerri and I had a rather unique perspective on what was designed as a visual meditation during our New Year’s Eve retreat at King’s House.
We’d agreed to be “Readers” for the late-evening prayer service – and as such, our behind-the-ambo position meant we saw only the backside of a soul-stirring iconostasis.
In other words, we were staring at blanks throughout our Visio Divina meditation.
But what had at first seemed a bit of a disadvantage…morphed into a blessing as I spent a few quiet morning moments with the scripture readings for today’s feast – the Epiphany.
It occurred to me that the perspective of the Magi was not much different than my own during our Visio service. Our presence before Jesus may have been intentional, but initially we had no idea what we were looking at as we gazed upon him.
Consider this: At first (and naturally enough), the Magi went to the palace to seek the newborn king. Only later did they learn that Jesus couldn’t be found in a place of power and prestige. Instead, as the Psalmist notes, he resided with the powerless…and ever offers them a saving grace:
For he shall rescue the poor when they cry out,
and the afflicted when they have no one to help them.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
But we’d best not mistake Christ’s preference for the lowly…as an indication of any weakness on his part. This truth about Jesus emerged when at last I did have an opportunity to view the iconostasis, following our prayer service.
There, in the center, was an icon of Christ Pantocrator. Ruler, not just of dusty, decrepit ol’ Judea…but Lord of all the Cosmos. Christ Pantocrator: The Almighty. The All-Powerful King of kings.
Sure, there’s a certain tension involved with attempting to hold these opposite things together – a preference for the poor, embodied in the Omnipotent One. But it helps, I think, to have approached my epiphany from a less-than-ideal position.
Like the Magi, I had no real idea what I was searching for. And that left my heart open to some amazing and unexpected possibilities.
Gazing, at last, upon Christ in all his fullness…I am better prepared to embrace what the prophet Isaiah promises about the Messiah:
Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.