Saints below, that’s how I saw them, maneuvered the unique wheelchair, customized for the man’s small frame. A pair of child-sized sneakers, too clean, sat on the footrest. A blanket tucked around him left me puzzling about his ability to move without assistance. But these physical details contrasted with his wonder-struck face as he looked up at the rose window in Sainte-Chapelle. And his awe reminded me this man, ill-formed to most, was one of God’s beloved image bearers.
I’m guessing he was in his forties, hair peppered with some gray and a face growing wrinkled by life. Oh, but his eyes, how they focused up and over the crowd at the apostle John’s vision of the apocalypse in the book of Revelation. Maybe I was reading into his expression and thoughts. God knows I like a good story. And yet, I sensed something hopeful in his eyes. Like he knew the story. All of it. I prayed so. While Revelation’s full of terrifying images, the story’s not without hope. Or Grace.
While crowds hustled about, none in this holy triangle seemed hurried. His parents, I assumed, stood watch over and with him. Waiting and watching. I imagine they’d become accustomed to life at a slower pace. Aging slows us, as do life’s challenges and I guess they, probably in their early seventies, knew both more than most. Still I admired their calm as photographers and curious ones jostled for best angles.
But for me, it was three faces, too holy to capture through any lens but the eye. Two looking down with care, one looking up with awe at John’s vision. I can’t help but think they all knew the story. Perhaps, this was why they came and lingered. They knew the ending, laden with hope and a vision of a new heaven and a new earth. And specifically, “He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever. And the one sitting on the throne said ‘Look I am making all things new!’ “(Revelation 21:4-5a, NLT)
Were they, like I, pondering what’s possible in that new world?
Well, God only knows but this morning I woke up singing opening lines from this hymn, the lyrics written almost 400 years ago by a German, Joachim Neander (1650-1680).
“All my hope on God is founded, he doth still my trust renew.
Me through change and chance he guideth, only good and only true.“
HOPE in GOD, “through change and chance.” A hope, embedded not in stained glass but engraved soul-deep in all God’s children.
HOPE, like a HOLY HINT that “the best is yet to be.”
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