To let all God's glory through

Yesterday we celebrated Candlemas, the Presentation of Jesus, the light to enlighten the gentiles and give glory to God's people. It was also the World Day for Consecrated Life, and at the chaplaincy members of Oxford's various religious communities celebrated with students and our archbishop at the 11AM Mass, followed by a lovely lunch and some good, lively conversations. I also managed to catch up with a couple of old, seldom-seen friends, which is always good!

Thinking about the feast, the light of Christ and the essence of religious life, I found myself increasingly drawn back to this image, which appeared in my Facebook feed a few weeks ago, and came via a page dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. I cannot find out who the photographer is, so I'm unable to credit her/him - if anyone knows, please let me know.

The image somehow manages to be full of both dancing and stillness, music and silence at the same time: it certainly evokes the Light we celebrated yesterday, and recalls for me some words from Gerard Manley Hopkins: This one work... Let all God’s glory through...

It's what we're all called to do, through the quality of our being, our way and depth of living and loving - to let all God's glory, God's love and tenderness, shine through us. It lies at the heart of the call to religious life, and indeed at the heart of every call to belong to God. Very early on in the Constitutions of my congregation, the Society of the Sacred Heart, it says we are consecrated to glorifying the Heart of Jesus. It goes on to say what this means, and though the words here are for RSCJ, in reality they can apply to anyone who wants to live centred only on God...

We answer His call
to discover and reveal His love
letting ourselves be transformed by His Spirit
so as to live united and conformed to Him,
and through our love and service
to radiate the very love of His Heart.

The process of transformation is also a process of growth in that love and life of God we are called to allow to permeate our very being and let shine through. And this can come at a cost. Ice, when it is frozen solid, hard and uncrack-able is thick and opaque; it radiates no light because no light can shine through it. For this to happen the ice needs to start melting, or to be thinner and therefore more vulnerable to cracking - just like those dancing angels. And so it is with us: in the measure in which we allow the Sun to melt us, allow ourselves to shed our thick protective shells, to become more vulnerable, more transparent, we will become, like those sunlit dancing angels, committed to this one work... to let all God's glory through...