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Blinded by the Light

Sculpture in St. Paul’s Covent Garden—Conversion of Saint Paul (photo credit Elizabeth Towers)

Today is the day we remember the Conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus...

Saul who still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem

found himself blinded by an extraordinarily bright light as he was riding to Damascus, knocking him off his horse and to make matters worse he heard a voice say, "Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?!" and the story goes that Saul (as he was known then) said, "Who are you?" and the voice said, "I am Jesus, who you are persecuting."

and in Frederick Buechner's words, Saul who became Paul got a real talking to!

"Those boys in Damascus," Jesus said. "Don't fight them. Join them. I want you on my side," and Paul never in his life forgot the sheer lunatic joy and astonishment of that moment. He was blind as a bat for three days afterward, but he made it to Damascus anyway and was baptized on the spot. He was never the same again, and neither, in a way, was the world (Acts 9:1-6; 22:4-16; 26:9- 18).~originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words

There are many ways to reflect on this story. Have you ever had or heard of such a dramatic conversion? Have you ever heard Jesus giving you instructions?

But today I find myself thinking about blinding light... There have been a couple of times this week when I have looked up to see a light that limited my vision. One was in centering prayer when my mind strayed from prayer as I searched for a visual image of Jesus, and I looked up to the light of the lamp and almost heard Jesus say, "I am here in the Light."

The other was yesterday morning when I looked outside and saw the blinding light of the sunrise. In the photograph you can see the shoreline across the way, but with the naked eye, I could only see the light.

It is fitting that on this day we will have a full moon, and in my part of the world it will rise at 5:57 pm...right across the way where the sun blinded me yesterday. You can bet I will be sitting out there watching for the moon this evening, thinking about Paul and his conversion and listening for what Jesus might be calling me to do with (as Mary Oliver says) "with this one wild and precious life." Will you join me?


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