“Revelation isn’t a far-off event that happened in some by-gone time. It is something that is happening in the here and now. Right here, today.” Brother L’Esperance, Society of St. John the Evangelist, SSSJE.org Daily Email, Brother Give us a Word.
Revelation brings to mind Flannery O’Connor’s last short story, “Revelation” about Ruby Turpin, a pig farmer who has the sense knocked out of her literally by a college girl in her doctor’s waiting room. As Ruby goes over in her mind how she is superior to the other people in the room, the Wellesley student throws her book, Human Development at Ruby and calls her a “old wart hog.” Ruby wonders if this is a message from God. Later, she has a vision of people in the waiting room going to heaven singing Halleluiah off key while the people like herself who think they are superior are at the end of the line singing, of course, on key.
We daily are given revelations, often by people like the student, Mary Grace, whom we least expect. My experience is that there are people in our lives today at the workplace, at home, at school, on the streets who are speaking to us about changes we need to make in our spiritual and physical lifestyles, our addictions, our prejudices. The message may be too painful, or we do not see the messengers as persons of authority, because we are superior to them because of our education, our wealth, our social standing, our race, or the land of our birth.
O’Connor says Mary Grace may not be pretty or will not be the authority figure we are accustomed to hearing. Mary Grace may not be able to sing on tune or even speak our language. She may be someone we would unconsciously consider beneath us.
Our revelations are often about how we should change, but they are also revelations about how grateful we should be for the amazing gifts we have before us. We are given revelations about beauty, the beauty of the outdoors, the beauty of the friendships we have. Most of all, we are given revelations of God’s presence with us. These revelations come in an unexpected call or touch or note. A piece of music, a sermon, a meal reminds us God’s love.
Spiritual exercises put us in position for revelations. Our mission only is to be ready and open to hear and receive the message of God’s presence and love.