Lost in the backstreets of glory


My reflections occasioned by a period of confession during today’s church gathering.  I don’t know whether I can fully capture in words either the picture I was seeing and its symbolism or my response to God – but this is my attempt!

Why is that I get lost in the backstreets of glory, the alleyways where light is eclipsed and hope pulls thin?

Though my home is that city and its air charged with you, yet sometimes I waver.  Dwarfed by its grandeur, awed by the beauty of its king, but still my heart aches.  I live as though I might not belong.  As if this were not my neighbourhood.  As if it were all just a dream.

Why won’t my heart rest in joy’s kingdom which, though not yet, is also still somehow now?  Why do I sidestep thoroughfares paved with gold, wander into long-shadowed streets, cobbled byways which conspire to make me stumble?  Why do I find faith so hard and fear so familiar?  And why, when I know it is all true, does my soul pull back from the glory, rejecting your assurances for the commonplace security of an emptiness which will not risk?

My heart has long been heavy.  Not to the degree which I have known.  But still heavy.  A weight which drains slow as I drag it from place to place, endlessly travelling the shadowy byways of this royal city.  Soul irrevocably touched – and made weary – by things hoped for and seen, and still hidden in the not yet.  Deep fatigue fed by this dissonance, tightrope between now and the not yet which I see.  Impatience with all that is still not.

Yes, my heart knows well the safety of glory’s backstreets.  Places which, though within that city’s limits, are more secluded, less touched by the intensity of hope.  Where gloom sucks light and radiance seems less real, here my heart hides.

It hides because to cower where light is eclipsed and hope pulls thin is predictable at least, apparently safer.  It hides because in the shadows there is no need to face the fragility, the incompleteness of now’s glory.

My heart hides for these reasons and yet also because to live in the beauty of the city’s main streets means embracing the dissonance, the present incompleteness of this city.  It hides because to drink deeply of its air and dance in its freedom means surrendering predictability to the curious serendipity of the city’s King.

Jesus, I willingly confess this.  Even when I know it is all true, the promises you’ve made, my soul pulls back.  Oh, help me to choose you.  To rest in all that is now, assured of all that will come.  To embrace the dissonance.  To surrender the safety of predictability and receive the safety of you.  Keep me from being lost in the backstreets of glory.

Photo credit

2 thoughts on “Lost in the backstreets of glory

  1. Beautifully and eloquently said.

    it was the first thing that I read this morning, and it really touched me, thank you chloe.

    • Thanks, Georgia. I feel this so deeply that it took hours even to get this on the page – and even as I reread it now I am wondering what edits I should have made to capture this feeling more than I did. So glad that what I did manage to articulate touched you though!

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