Tuesday, July 29, 2008

needing to look up

I falter where I firmly trod,
And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world's altar-stairs
That slope through darkness up to God,

I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.


Italy is a pleasant memory and Africa dominates the horizon. There have been some tough situations, sadnesses, hard decisions. Africa doesn't wear gloves in dealing with people. Two families we know have lost beloved children recently; another dear missionary colleague has been diagnosed with aids. Friends have been mugged, a thief has jeopardized the meeting of a houses church.

So when this excerpt from Tennyson's "In Memoriam" came across my reading, I had to share it. The image of climbing stairs to an altar is powerful--all the altars we saw in Italy were set up on marble stairs. But the altar we seek is infinitely above us, and the stairs we climb are this world. It is all we know, we cannot even see the altar from where we are.

The important thing is to keep looking up. We stretch out our lame hands and look up. So I chose one of my favorite "up shots" from our trip. All the arches and the intricacy of the architecture are simply amazing. But they were all manmade. If I can be so impressed by the work of medieval artisans many centuries ago, how much moreso the design of my Father?

This picture is taken inside the basilica of Pisa.