"Where is this place you have brought me? I don't recognize the shine. The sounds give life. Along the way you talked about it, you raved of glory. But when I see glory I see Hollywood and lights and the height of human pride. What is the glory you speak of?"
"Don't look for it, Tim. When you look and strive, it only frustrates things. Do you know what I mean when I say, "Be still?"
"I thought I knew. I thought so much of it was wrapped up in the religion I claim I don't possess--for religion is such a nasty word in this culture, you know?"
"Yes, but think of religio as the relational structure that holds you and I together. For you, religion became a matter of things, of places, of people, of positions."
"Yes, I think I see now. I cannot achieve you."
"No, you cannot. Though you've tried. And when you've tried, you shone indeed. But in your own glory, which is no glory at all."
"So, be still?"
"Yes, but being still is not a matter of physical action. To be still is to be within me. Remember that day at the Pacific Ocean?"
"Oh yes, how could I forget."
"You felt the rush of the cold waters--I love the Pacific. But you also felt fear. You trembled a bit when you felt the force. But you did not back down. The fear drew you in, and then you dove."
"I remember my breath being taken away."
"You swam and played. Those waters took your breath away and they allowed you to breathe all at once."
"I felt. I gasped. I laughed, and played."
"Yes, Tim. Glory. That is what it's like to be still. Do not forget the second part. 'And know.' Stillness is not an emptying of mind and spirit. Quite the opposite, really. It's filling. It's stepping from the world, the so-called religion, the glory you think is associated with me, and stepping into this place. This place where the sounds haunt you. Where the air feels alive, speaking to you, caressing you. And the shine."
"Yes, the shine. I can't escape it. I walk to the trees but the shine permeates where shadows should rest."
"Oh, Tim. You are slowly growing and it makes me smile but you are still so young. I AM the shine."
There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
-1 Corinthians 15:40-41 (ESV)
Timothy Willard loves to sit with his wife by the bonfire and make up stories about Tom the Backyard-Badger for his three lovely daughters. When he's not carving up the Appalachian Mountains on his Salsa El Mariachi, you can find him busy writing a book, collaborating on a book, or reading a book written by someone dead and gone. Timothy studied beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis under theologian Alister McGrath. The author of five books, including Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (Zondervan), Timothy is currently finishing The Life-Changing Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019), preparing his doctoral thesis for publication, and trying to find a publisher for his first novel The Tempest and the Bloom. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.