Show Me Your Glory

Show Me Your GloryImage: Show Me Your Glory  © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, Year A, Proper 24/Ordinary 29/Pentecost +19: Exodus 33.12-23

Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.”
…And the Lord [said]…While my glory passes by I will put you
in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until
I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you
shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”

– Exodus 33.18, 21-23

What tugs most at my imagination in this story is not the vision of glory that God gives to Moses but rather the place where God hides him. To enable Moses to abide the seeing, God places him in a cleft of the rock. Cleft: a space made by cleaving. Standing with Moses, watching God’s brilliant back fade into the distance, it is easy to feel the resonance of both senses of that paradoxical word cleave: how it can mean to cling as well as to rend.

We know that cleft, that cleaving, in our own selves. We know what it is like to feel hollow and torn in those times when it seems like God is walking away from us, the aching distance increasing with every step. It is in that same inexplicable moment that God reveals God’s own self to us, dissolving the distance, becoming bound to us all over again.

How will we abide what God reveals to us—and what God chooses to conceal? What helps us persist in turning toward God even when God hides God’s face from us? Where do you find the clefts in your own life—those places that break your heart open even as you become whole? What do you see and know of God there?

In the Cleaving
A Blessing

Believe me,
I know how
this blessing looks:
like it is
leaving you,
like it is
walking away
while you stand there,
feeling the press
of every sharp edge,
every jagged corner
in this fearsome hollow
that holds you.

I know how hard it is
to abide this blessing
when some part of it
remains always hidden
from view
even as it sees you
from every angle,
inhabits your
entire being,
calls you
by your name.

I know the ache
of vision that comes
in such fragments,
the terrible wonder
of glory that arrives
but in glimpses.

So I am not here
to make excuses
for this blessing,
for how it turns
its face from us
when we need
to see it most.

But I want to believe
it will always
find its way to us
when we are in the place
made by cleaving—
the space left
by what is torn apart
even as it is joined
in the fierce union
that comes only
in the fissure.

I want to be unafraid
to turn toward
this blessing
that binds itself to us
even in the rending;
this blessing
that unhinges us
even as it
makes us whole.

For a reflection on this week’s gospel reading, click the image or title below.

Taxing Questions
Taxing Questions

Looking ahead…

Illuminated Retreat

ILLUMINATED 2014 coming soon! I am excited about the all-new online retreat I’ll offer for Advent. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, ILLUMINATED 2014 will be a great way to journey toward Christmas from anywhere you are, in the way that fits you best. The retreat will begin on November 30, and I would love for you to join us. Registration and more info coming soon. Group & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Show Me Your Glory,” please visit this page at (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

2 Responses to “Show Me Your Glory”

  1. Jim McWhinnie Says:

    Oh, my!

    St. Teresa of Avila … Jan, you must be her kindred spirit.

    jim mcwhinnie
    (Brother Anthony of the Cross)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *