"... the beauty of holiness"

On a crowded train near Tokyo, soon after World War II, I overheard a woman describing how she had fled from her burning home after a midnight air raid. The houses in her vicinity had gone up in flames one after another, and she and her neighbors had had to flee with nothing more than a bag or two apiece. When she finally reached the comparative safety of a riverbank, the woman turned back for one last look at her home. Flames lighted up the entire horizon; but as she looked higher, she caught her breath. For there, serene, resplendent, shone the full moon. "It was so beautiful," the woman said. "I almost cried."

Her comment reminded me of something I had heard as a pupil in a Christian Science Sunday School. The Greeks, my teacher said, worshiped the "holiness" of beautiful objects. They created many lovely things, and they also prayed to a pantheon of gods, some having province over the elements, such as wind, rain, and thunder. But the children of Israel worshiped the beauty of holiness. "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness," David sang (I Chron. 16:29).

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Moved on, not laid off
August 14, 1995
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