Faith and Sight

Leaving St. Alban’s Parish yesterday I noticed a neighbor from a nearby building looking at me with an outstretched arm.  Abby was excitedly circling his hand in a counter-clockwise motion, beckoning me to come to him.  I walked over to him as he gleefully reported his thanks to have seen what he did the other night.  Abby was referring to an experience that was so marvelous I’ve actually wondered whether or not was a dream.  I thanked him by telling him I was glad because I figured if I told anyone… “they wouldn’t believe it” he said, finishing the words I had yet to speak.

Last Thursday Lola and I ( went to the Cathedral grounds much later than usual.  After our circle around the Close we came down Lych Gate road and turned up Wisconsin Avenue.  As we passed the small elevated portion of grass between Nourse Hall and the sidewalk I was struck by the sight of two beautiful fawns that were literally glowing under the moonlight by the tree there.  Within a few seconds Lola saw them too and the four of us stood still, staring at each other.

Then Lola moved toward the fawns.  Eventually she stood with her hind legs on the sidewalk and her front paws on the short stone embankment, careening forward, sniffing and bobbing her head.  One of the fawns returned the gesture, moving slowly toward Lola until the tips of their noses were about six inches apart.  It was absolutely incredible – the glowing light, the silence and stillness of the night, a Great Dane and a fawn inches apart!  Did the prophet Isaiah witness something similar in the Judaean desert one night before he dreamed of peace in Jerusalem… of a wolf and a lamb?

I can’t describe how joyful this was to see.  I remember thinking , “Is this really happening? I wish someone else were with me!”  Little did I know Abby was standing across the street, sharing the joy.

I know that readers, like I have, will offer logical explanations in regard to this experience. The “Cathedral fawns” that night, not knowing about predators, weren’t afraid.  Lola, for whatever reason, isn’t aggressive.  So…

But what was extraordinary that night, as my neighbor can attest, is not that we could make sense of what we saw, or imagine that it could happen, but that we saw it.

The work of the church is kin to this, isn’t it?  We preach and teach that which we can imagine and make sense of but seldom see – in ourselves or in others.  I wonder what kind of joy we might impart to the world if we realized more of what our imaginations are capable of.  And who might be watching.

Happy Monday (on Tuesday),


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4 Responses to Faith and Sight

  1. Christian says:

    Great “Cup” today Jim. Sounds like a very special experience. My only regret is the melancholy tone you attached to the end. “The work of the church is kin to this, isn’t it? We preach and teach that which we can imagine and make sense of but seldom see – in ourselves or in others.” First off, your preaching and your example are transformational for many of us. Second, look hard and you will see many other marvels of The Lord all around you.

  2. Bob Witten says:

    What humbles me is how you relate everything that happens to spiritual reality. I can’t do that . It is your priestly gift and, upon reading your posts, is something approaching magical. Thank you. Bob

  3. says:

    And it didn’t cost a cent, those are the moments of joy that are with us always!

  4. Marcy Fisher says:

    In Cambridge, MA, this afternoon, in my favorite little store called Joi de Vivre, the salesclerks were busy chatting when I approached the counter. “You have to see this,” one said to me flipping through a book on the counter. Then she held out a photo of a tawny fawn nuzzling a big black great dane. No joke. The whole book was photos of and stories about unlikely animal friends. Joi de Vivre is a great name for this little store. Marcy

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