THE INVISIBLE MANIFESTS itself in the visible. I think of the alphabet, of letters literally—A, B, C, D, E, F, G, all twenty-six of them. I think of how poetry, history, the wisdom of the sages and the holiness of the saints, all of this invisible comes down to us dressed out in their visible, alphabetic drab.
I am thinking of incarnation, breath becoming speech through teeth and tongue, spirit becoming word, silence becoming prayer, the holy dream becoming the holy face. I am speaking of the humdrum events of our lives as an alphabet.
I am thinking of grace. I am thinking of the power beyond all power, the power that holds all things in manifestation, and I am thinking of this power as ultimately a Christ-making power, which is to say a power that makes Christs, which is to say a power that works through the drab and hubbub of our lives to make Christs of us before we're done or else, for our sakes, graciously to destroy us. In neither case, needless to say, is the process to be thought of as painless.
I am thinking of salvation. In the movie called 2001, A Space Odyssey, a man goes hurtling through the universe to the outermost limits of the universe, the outermost limits of space and time. Through huge crevasses of racing light he passes finally beyond space and time altogether, and you sit there in the midnight of the movie theater watching him and wondering what fantastic secret he will discover there at the very secret heart of the fantastic itself, and then comes the movie's most interesting moment. Because when his space pod finally comes to rest, what the man steps out to discover is not some blinding cosmic revelation, some science-fiction marvel, but a room. He steps out into an almost everyday room of floor and ceiling and walls with a table in it and some chairs and a half-filled bookshelf and a vase of flowers and a bed. And in this room the man dies and is born again. At the heart of reality there is a room. At the heart of reality there is a heart beating life into all that lives and dies. Clack-clack.
-Originally published in The Alphabet of Grace