Butterflies, dragonflies, katydids, hummingbirds, ladybugs. Translucence; gossamer wings.
Translucence breathes between the lines as Luke’s tells the story of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples after his resurrection; a gauzy presence; earthly and real, yet unearthly and beyond laws of space, gravity and time.
While the disciples were telling how they had seen Jesus risen from the dead, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
As in John’s companion passage:
When it was evening of the day of the Resurrection, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
Entering the room through locked doors. A ghost. It’s not a ghost, it’s me. Touch me and see. Look at my hands and my feet. Have you anything here to eat? And he ate broiled fish in their presence. And, from John again, Jesus invited Thomas to put his finger in his hands and his hand in his side. Intimate. Knowledge. Trust. And Thomas believed.
So Jesus welcomed the disciples – and welcomes us – to examine his wounds, the holes in his hands and in his side – so that we know he is for real, so that we know he is risen and lives still.
But what about the other way around? Do we let Jesus touch our wounds? Put his fingers in places where our skin is cracked? Reach into us?
Recently, a man and woman were on television looking for help in their relationship. As the show’s host kept pushing the woman, probing for information and understanding about her part in the troubles, she continued to react defensively and try to deflect the questioning onto her husband. When the interviewer brought up her use of marijuana, she responded, “Well, he smokes it, too.” And when the counselor called her on her defensiveness and deflecting, she finally admitted to it and confessed that she didn’t like feeling vulnerable and that is why she engaged in those behaviors.
I know how that feels. Years ago, I was in a peer group, and I didn’t trust one of the members. It was a small group, only five people plus the supervisors, and so to distrust one person tainted the whole experience for me. My response was to shut myself off, button down, take on a rigid posture and to do whatever I could to avoid feeling vulnerable, revealing anything of myself that would let the others know too much about me.
One day, the supervisor asked me a question, and I replied with a generic answer, like “I am fine, it’s okay,” and he exploded. He was mad, frustrated, out of patience. And the whole time he railed at me, I felt not castigated, but loved, cared for. He was telling me that he wanted to know me. And that felt good. And changed me.
A recent opinion piece in Newsweek examines the aircraft industry’s approach to increasing flight safety. A major component of its continual striving to keep flying as safe as possible is to move away from complexity and to seek transparency in design:
Consider the cockpit of a Boeing 737. In front of each pilot, there is a large Wshaped control yoke mounted on a three-foot-tall control column. “When we fly the 737, we get these huge control wheels in front of us—and they’re moving when either pilot moves them,” says Ben Berman, an airline captain and accident investigator. “If I pull back hard, then the first officer’s column will also move back and probably bump their knees or poke them in the belly … ”
The bigger lesson is that the answer to complexity isn’t simplicity; it is transparency. There is tremendous value in being able to see the state of a system by simply looking at it. Transparent design makes it hard for us to do the wrong thing—and it makes it easier to realise if we have made a mistake.
So again, transparency lights the path to knowledge.
I am blessed with friends who speak openly, freely and honestly about their struggles in their lives; changes in themselves; relationships that they find challenging; all efforts to continue to grow spiritually and emotionally. Pondering one such recent conversation, I realized how present God is in my friend’s struggle, that my friend has laid open her wounds, turned them to face God, so that God can put God’s finger in her wounds and touch her with the healing power that comes only from our Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier. And it has helped me to realize that we can all do that: We can open our wounds to Jesus, angle our wounds so that they face him, let him in, let him be part of our struggles as well. And when we do that:
We’ll find that Jesus’ healing translucence will hover, breathe, beat within our hearts.
We’ll find intimacy with God, oneness with God.
We will know that God is present in our struggles, too.
And our own gossamer wings will flutter and take flight.
It’s Safer Than Ever to Fly. Here’s Why | Opinion
By Christopher Clearfield and András Tilcsik
This article originally appeared in London School of Economics.