Once, recently, I had a vision.
And before I go any further, can I just say that I’m really not the sort of girl who has visions? I don’t mean the kind of vision I have for a master bath with a clawfoot tub and clean grout (I have plenty of those). I mean the kind of visions the old prophets had.
And not only did I have a vision, but I had it in my yoga class (I know, it just gets better and better.)
My yoga instructor, a fascinating lady whose knowledge about body structure I greatly respect, was leading us through a meditation at the end of our workout.
“Picture yourself in a safe place.”
I tried out several places, my garden, a prairie, my bedroom, none of them felt right. Then I saw myself tucked underneath the wing of a great bird. It was a copper-colored bird, and very round and somehow felt soft and firm at the same time.
“That’s interesting, ” I thought, having never seen myself tucked under a bird before.
I spent a minute looking around the scene. This bird was sitting in something of a craggy, dusty wilderness. Behind it was the smoking ruins of an ancient city. And I was curled up underneath its wing.
This vision continued for a few more minutes as my yoga instructor gave us more directions, and then she quietly dismissed class. I was Peter on the mountaintop, not wanting to leave, wanting to pitch my tent and stay in that place. But I rolled up my mat and drove home like everyone else. Like I hadn’t just had a divine vision given to me in the middle of my sticky, sweaty yoga class.
It wasn’t until afterwards that I was able to examine that vision and see it for the gift that it truly was. And I went back to read the verse from Psalms, the one that David wrote when he was hiding in darkness.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in You my soul takes refuge; In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
I was coming out of some very dark times–a traumatic pregnancy, a premature birth, and a new baby with health complications. There were many losses to be mourned, and more heaping up every day. Life, to me, seemed very dark indeed.
But oh, the comfort I found in seeing myself in the shadow of His wing. And in realizing that though it is safe under His wing, it is still very dark.
And then, I read it here too, by beautiful Ann who shares her heart in her words:
When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand…It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by…Then He will remove His hand…Then we look back and see His back.
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
In the darkness, it’s hard to see–good, God, joy, myself, anything. All there is is darkness. A darkness “so thick that it can be felt” (Exodus 10:21). In my darkness, I felt abandoned and alone. I never knew, while under His wing, that that’s where I was. That the darkness was not because God was far, but because He was so near.
This time of year, from October until May, is a tender one for me, a time when my body remembers, even when my mind tries to forget, the darkness that enveloped it. But the recent ability to look back, and see God’s back, is beautiful.
In time, years, dust settles. In memory, ages, God emerges. Then when we look back, we see God’s back.
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
It’s been two years since I first felt that darkness closing in on me. Even as I type that, I can’t believe it’s been that long. I still feel it like it was yesterday. One would think that after two years wounds would have healed and light would have returned long ago. But God has been slow to remove His hand this time. Perhaps it is His mercy that makes Him so slow, knowing my wounds and my heart are still tender and not ready yet to gaze upon His glory as He passes by.
Friends, I have no way of knowing what your circumstances are today. But if you find yourself in deep darkness and drifting towards despair, may I offer you my hand? May I hold you tightly as the glory of God passes over you, as He tucks you under His wing, until you are able to look and see His back? It might be a long time coming, but it will be a privilege to wait with you and gaze upon His glory together.