"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 is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.