I thought about how feet have a quality that makes them especially vulnerable and poignant.And suddenly I wondered what it would feel like to be held down and have an iron spike driven through them. I thought of the psychic horror of not being able to move, of being literally nailed to a piece of wood; of knowing that even if by some miracle you didn’t die that you would never walk again; that your bones and tendons and sinews were being butchered; that your feet, that you loved, were forever wrecked.
I thought about the print of Fra Angelico’s “St. Dominic Adoring the Crucifixion” that I have in my bathroom, across from the toilet. I put on my shoes and walked to Mass and on the way, I thought about how if you love Christ, you walk for him. You walk for all the people who can’t walk: the people in wheelchairs, the old, the sick, the people in solitary confinement, the people in straitjackets, the babies.
|ST. DOMINIC WITH THE CRUCIFIX,|
FRA ANGELICO, c. 1450
The glory of the Gospels is that if you devote yourself to them, they reveal themselves to you: ever so slowly, and ever more deeply. I used to puzzle over the pearl of great price: why did the man who sold everything to buy it hide it in a field? Why not display it? Now I see it’s because the pearl of great price is invisible to the eyes of the world. You can’t point to it, and even if you could, people still wouldn’t see it. It’s hidden. It’s deep inside you, casting an invisible glow. You serve a different master than the rest of the world. You hear a different music. You have a different motive.
Sometimes I picture leaving invisible bits of my body and blood behind, little energy trails of calorie-burnt-up heat, on the streets where I walk. For years I wandered alone in an almost unbearably painful dark night of the soul: Where would my love go? How could I give myself completely? Really, of course, you open yourself completely to his love, and when you do…How different the eyes of God are from the eyes of the world! How different the things he values and the things we value; how different the things we strive for and the things that endure.
This morning I woke at dawn and looked up, through the gauze curtains above my bed, to the branches of the pepper tree beyond. When you think about Christ all the time, he is with you while you sleep and he’s with you when you wake. When you walk with Christ, the Gospels come alive and if you walk with him for a long time, you start to become part of them. I gazed unthinkingly at the tree for a minute and then I exclaimed, “I’m like the blind man who saw dimly, Lord!” [Mark 8:22-26]...