At the beginning of the first book of Isaiah, Isaiah stands in awe and wonder before the glory of God. He saw God’s garment filling the temple. Seraphim with six pairs of wings surrounded God. “Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Creator. All the earth is filled with God’s glory (doxa)!”
Humbled, Isaiah is profoundly aware of his own nothingness before the doxa of the Creator. Isaiah was aware of his “unclean lips” as he lived among a people of unclean lips; however, the Creator sent forth an angel with a burning coal to purify Isaiah. Then, and only then, was Isaiah ready to go forth. “Here, send me.” Send me forth to proclaim the glory and grandeur of the creator.
Like Isaiah, Gerard Manley Hopkins grasped the glory of the Creator:
THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed.
Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell:
the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
I grasped the wonder of God as I stood spellbound and filled with awe on the Meade Glacier near Skagway, Alaska. I was overwhelmed by the power of the glacier. It had carved mountains and was littered with huge boulders that it had dislodged. Until I stood on a glacier, I had thought glaciers were dead, inert masses of frozen water. Underneath my feet and beside me, the glacier was alive. The mysterious creatures known as ice worms, which live only in glacial ice, were ensconced in the ice deep, deep down beneath my feet. Water was flowing down. It was rumbling and roaring like a mighty stream—rolling down like justice, making all things new, creating new fissures and crevasses. I stood in profound silence and wonder. The Creator is alive and well. The creator is reshaping, reforming, making all things over into the Creator’s image and likeness.
Like Isaiah, I was filled with wonder and awe. I was filled with a sense of my own littleness before the Creator. I was also filed with a sense that all is well. I know that God is alive and well and working. I know the Compassionate One cares for me as for all of creation.
Something happened there. Something burned into my spirit. I was branded with a deeper sense of God’s abiding presence to me as a burning coal seared my spirit. Even weeks later, I am more aware that I am enfolded in the hesed (Loving Kindness) of the Creator who is making me new, who is recreating me. I am being molded and shaped into the very image and likeness of the Creator as the living waters carve me and cleanse me. They mold me and shape me. They divinize me!
On the icy cold of a glacier, I experienced the loving warmth of God. “Holy, holy, holy.” I, along with all of creation, am filled with the glory and grandeur of the Creator.