On Feeling Fully Alive

The Ride of the Rohirrim


The Fulfillment of Glory: The Transfiguration of Christ (Source)

There exists a moment that one can feel, like Merry, “at last, beyond doubt: a change.” It is the moment that inspires courage in prophecy like Wídfara, the moment that rekindles hope in the heart like Merry, the moment that stirs up passion in the soul like Théoden. It is a moment of transfiguration, of feeling fully alive. It is the moment, famous described in Chariots of Fire, that “when I run I feel His pleasure.”

It is nearly impossible to know when the moment will come, or how frequently, or to what extent. For it often comes unexpected and subtly. It is the light breeze of the Sea that imperceptibly rolls back the gloom of darkness and lets the morning glimmer again. It is the mysterious and inscrutable presence of God that Scripture so aptly describes:

“Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake – but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire – but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

The recognition of God’s presence and pleasure transfigures man, who once alive now feels fully alive. It arouses one to fulfill one’s potential, to seek out great deeds for the glory of that which is beyond oneself, to brim over so intensely with life that one’s soul seems to burst asunder like the horn of Guthláf. Beyond sensation, beyond comprehension, beyond understanding, the moment of feeling fully alive comes upon us, and no matter the thrill, the endorphins, the accomplishment that coincides with the moment, there remains something more, something beyond description, something simply verbalized as “the Divine pleasure.”

This radical consolation beguiles our rational faculties, yet with prayer and reflection we can glean insight into its coming. We can meditation on our talents and gifts that have been instilled or cultivated within us. We can reflect on glimpses of joy or satisfaction that seemed beyond earthly limit. We can intentional will ourselves to the great battlefields of the spiritual life, or the great plains of worldly need, where those talents and joys might intersect. And then, without warning, in the midst of serving or engaging or even being, the moment will come upon us: and His pleasure will make us feel fully alive.

And then, in the presence of the mysterious moment of light and silence, we shall be like Wídfara, and long for the coming of new things. Then we shall be like Merry, and look to a dawning morning beyond grey and shadow. Then we shall be like Théoden, and the golden shield of our countenance will be uncovered for all to witness, and our steps will set the world afire.

2015’s Reflection: “On Uncivilized Peoples



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