With Open Face Beholding

Lord, change me, make me new. Make me like you! – the plea of the sunflower.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.

Sunflower

There is a flower in my garden which is named for the sun. In appearance, much like the sun is she, golden arrayed, burning bright from the center with flaming colors outward spread. But there is more – much more meaning to her identity, because with the sun her whole existence is so lovingly aligned.

She does not mean to mimic or fool by merely sporting appearance – for what bird would dare to perch upon an orb of fire, and, so, what would she have to gain if she would scare away her own propagators, the midwives of her progeny with which she will be so heavy pregnant? She is humble and knows that she is merely a creature bound to the life-giving sun, and by no means desires to be a substitute. Yes, she stands tall and bold, but her height and breadth is but a measure of the depth of her humility, for her only wish, as far as a flower can wish, is to look up to that which she adores. It is the looking up that has raised her. It is the love of heavenly light that has opened wide her green-leafed arms. It is her submission to her Master that has given her flowery majesty.

For, all day long, while the sun shows forth his open face, shining full with glory, her rapturous gaze is all caught up in him. Every minute of every hour that passes, she faithfully follows his path with steadfast love. No matter what may come between them, whether mist or cloud or dark of night, it is him she always seeks, it is him that her hope will always find. Some dark days will fall, when a downpour may weigh her head too heavy to lift, but when the rays of the sun are visible again, the drops will slip from down her sunny cheeks and she will pay them no mind, not even to shake them away. She looks upon the sun again, never having lost him, for she has kept the thought and memory of him, the warmth of the gift that he has given, deep in her heart.

Yes, even when the sun slips over the edge of sight and pulls the veil of night down behind him, she is patient and trusting, and does not collapse in the darkness. Her head she bends down low – but not in despair, for one who loves as she loves can never hold despair – but in ever recognition of where her beloved lives. Though invisible to her petal eyes, her heart is not deceived and senses, with true love’s faith, his presence beneath the surface of the world. And so her vigilant gaze, ever fixed upon its deathless source, follows him as he shines on realms unknown and unseen, far from his touch get ever near to his soul. And when the night is opened slow, with tender, aching rush, the sun’s rays find her ready face, expectant in faith, and she receives anew the outpouring love of him whom she adores.

From this cause, then, is this flower called for the sun. He is her love, her reason, and her destiny. Her blossomy pledge of devotion is her very blossoming – and she is transformed by and into the one whom she loves.

© Christina Chase

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7 thoughts on “With Open Face Beholding

  1. Christina Chase Post author

    Reblogged this on Divine. Incarnate. and commented:

    Lately, I’ve been feeling very well, body and soul. (Thank you, everyone, for your prayers!) The physical wellness is a great reprieve from the difficulties of the first part of this year and I am grateful to God for it! I do have a desire, however, to take a break from myself here – that is, a break from the deeper reflections on my personal experiences, all the burgeoning up of the thoughts and feelings of mind and heart. I am, it seems, a bit tired of me.

    Not to worry, though, for there is much to do in the grace of God that doesn’t require such intense introspection. So, this week, I’m sharing something that I wrote as a Bible Burst: a poetic look at the lessons to be learned from a sunflower. Hope you enjoy it!

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  2. albert

    Hi Christina– This This is beautiful! It reminds me of yet another way “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” as Gérard Manley Hopkins so rightly put it as he started into one of his powerful poems.

    I hope you will understand if I say that I found a series of poems within your longer piece. Here’s my favorite (one word slightly altered, all the rest your own, with some omitted; two phrases transposed; the whole broken up into “feeling lines”):

    SUNFLOWER LOVE

    When the sun slips over the edge of sight
    and pulls the veil of night down behind him,
    she does not collapse in the darkness.

    Her head she bends down low – but not
    In despair, for she lives in recognition
    of where her beloved lives,
    though invisible to her petal eyes.

    Her heart is not deceived
    and senses his presence beneath
    the surface of the world. And so her gaze,
    ever fixed upon its source,
    (far from his touch yet ever near to his soul)
    follows him as he shines
    on realms unknown and unseen.

    And when the night is opened slow,
    with tender, aching rush,
    the sun’s rays find her ready face
    expectant,and she receives anew
    the outpouring love of him whom she adores.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Christina Chase Post author

      Oh, how I thank you, Albert! I was quite sure that I had written this barely edited Bible Burst into a poem, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Maybe, I had just intended to put it into poetic format?? Who knows, but the way you have written out the lines here is a great gift to me. Thank you!! I see it much more clearly now. You said that you saw more than one poem? Would you mind sharing the others with me, if you have time? You can always email me: contact@ChaseChristina.com
      With much appreciation,
      Pax Christi
      Christina

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      1. albert

        The whole thing is poetic, Christina; you have a gift for free-flowing imagery and rhythmic language. I zeroed in on the sunflower because of its occasional droopy-ness (which perfectly mirrors my interior state at certain times) and because I always remember a line from a songs that I first heard 35+ years ago: ” I believe in the sun, even when it doesn’t shine.”

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      2. albert

        Sorry, Christina, I have accidental finger taps – as i was looking up the song, I got a near-shock to realize that the lyrics were found on the wall of a Nazi concentration camp (as near as I can tell: https://sairyd.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/a-poem-of-belief-by-a-jewish-prisoner-in-a-nazi-concentration-camp/). Anyway, I like ALL of your poetry, and will enjoy “finding” the rest.

        Note: “Finding” means (1) listening for musical- or thought-pauses, and breaking lines there; (2) editing out a few redundant or too-explicit words (It’s often what we don’t say, or sing, that turns poetic language into poems — my opinion).

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        1. Christina Chase Post author

          Those are very powerful words, then, when you consider the source – Thank you for sharing. And thank you very much for the sound advice on “finding” poetry in my writing. I will happily use it!

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