Divine Radiance

This is a translation from the Russian book of scriptural meditations, “Day by Day”:

Scripture: “Moses was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord” (Exodus: 34, 29)


“Moses had the privilege of speaking with the Lord on Mount Sinai for 40 days. What a wonderful conversation that must have been! While he spoke, the glory of the Lord transformed Moses, and was reflected in him. But Moses did not notice his own iridescence, he did not know that “his face was radiant”, he was aware only of the Light illuminating the face of the Lord Himself. And this is what the word of the Lord leads us to even now: “But all of us, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord”, says St. Paul (2 Cor: 3, 18). And the most important thing for us is to let nothing extraneous get between our soul and the Lord. And how many barriers arise every day between us and the Lord! It is not only sin alone that prevents us from looking directly at Him. There are concerns, worries, the many things we have to do, and even our work for the Lord Himself, which in our zeal obscures the image of Christ. But in any case, everything must disappear for us, so that nothing stands between us and that Divine glory which should be reflected in us, in our lives, and in everything we do.”

And this brings to mind the lady that Lewis describes in chapter 12 of “The Great Divorce”:

"Some kind of procession was approaching us and the light came from the persons who composed it.

"First came bright Spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers – soundlessly falling, lightly drifting flowers, though by the standards of the ghost-world each petal would have weighed a hundred-weight and their fall would have been like the crashing of boulders. Then, on the left and right, at each side of the forest avenue came youthful shapes, boys upon one hand, and girls upon the other. If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who read that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians: and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done.

“Is it?.. Is it?” I whispered to my guide.

“Not at all,” said he. “It’s someone ye’ll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”

“She seems to be… well, a person of particular importance?”

“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”

“And who are these gigantic people … look! They’re like emeralds… who are dancing and throwing flowers before her?”

“Haven’t ye read your Milton? A thousand liveried Angels lackey her .”

“And who are all these young men and women on each side? “

“They are her sons and daughters.”

“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”

“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”

“Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents? “

“No. There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives. “


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

Fans of classic Doctor Who will certainly have heard of Sarah (Jane) Smith, but since that character didn’t appear until ten years after Lewis’s death, she can’t be who he had in mind. But both the meditation and the quote from TGD remind me vaguely of something else he wrote, which I believe was in Screwtape, to the effect that many who appear to be of little importance are (as Screwtape would have considered it) great warriors on the Enemy’s side. Which itself is reminiscent of Christ’s words recorded in Like 22:26:

But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.