The Practice of Beholding

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“And behold, there came wise men…” So the story goes.

Did they have even the smallest inkling as they set out, of what they would find at the other end of their journey, when their feet would carry them across a threshold and into a simple house where a mother played with her small son–no less dirty or drooly than any other child they’d seen?

But first the wilderness needed to be crossed.

I try and imagine what they must have seen, what vision could have been revealed in the heavens that would kindle the flame of desire in their hearts, until they could do nothing less than pack everything into the saddle bags and turn their faces towards the desert.

What sign did they perceive? What was it about that one star? And how can I also have eyes to see, a heart that beholds the truth shining in the sky above it and understands?

Behold.

There is much beholding that happens in those early days of the boy Jesus’ life. Angels appear and BEHOLD! Prophecies are fulfilled and BEHOLD! Dreams are dreamt and BEHOLD! Mary sings the world upside down, and BEHOLD!

Barbara Brown Taylor writes it true when she says, “I realised just how little interest I had in defending Christian beliefs. The parts of the Christian story that had drawn me into the church were not the believing parts but the beholding parts. ‘Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy…’ ‘Behold, the lamb of God…’ ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock…’”

I’m trying to practice more beholding in my life. For too long, the focus has been so much on doing that I have exhausted myself arguing to God about why I am worth having on his team and convincing him of all the things I can do.

It’s only recently, as my do-ing life has ground to a halt whilst two wee children collaborate to steal any remaining ounce of productivity from my days, that I’ve begun to hear a voice telling me, “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

My worth is already assured. I am the beloved one. And so I tip my head back again to look at the heavens and ask that I might have eyes to behold the signs in the sky, the sacred things all around me. There is a desert to cross and hard things to be endured for the sake of this newly born Kingdom, but unless I first be still and BEHOLD, that same spark of light will struggle to ignite within me; I will stand on the edge of the wilderness, digging my toes into the sand in fear and reluctance.

It is love alone that starts us on the journey, that sends us out into the desert. The Magi somehow read it painted across the sky: LOVE. And it launched them on a pilgrimage to find the one who was the source of all love. They asked in Jerusalem for the one born king of the Jews, making it sound like a diplomatic mission. But if they knew the prophecies then they knew the God who spoke them too, the God who says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” It was that kindness and the knowledge of their belovedness that drew them from their homes in the East to a strange land far away, to bow before a poor carpenter’s son in Bethlehem.

Oh, let this be the year I have eyes to SEE what God is doing and may that glimpse of love and glory pull me to my feet and onto the journey of a lifetime. For I do not ever want to stop seeing or stop waking up, as if from a dream, and declaring with Jacob, that “God is in this place—truly. And I didn’t even know it!”

The Magi returned home by a different route. And isn’t that always the way? That once we leave the safety of the world we know, once we let love draw us from our comfort zones and onto the road, we see and experience things that leave us forever changed; we walk a different path. But BEHOLD, God said to Jacob and says to us today; “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.”

We are drawn by love and it is our belovedness that will sustain us no matter what the journey brings, all this coming year.

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Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona lives in London with her Danish husband and her two young children. She is determinedly seeking the sacred in the ordinary, learning to see that even the most mundane moments of her day can be spiritual if she wakes up to the Divine in those places. She is in training to become a Spiritual Director, and baking is her favourite spiritual practice. You can follow her through her blog at fionalynne.com.
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen

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Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
  • PREACH. My goodness. I love this, Fiona. God is building such beauty and strength into you as you care for those two wee children. It’s spilling over.

    I would like to practice more beholding in my life too.

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you Idelette. Gosh I need that encouragement. Writing feels like pulling teeth most times I sit down to it these days, but just sometimes I can feel something scratching away under the surface trying to get through. Having this space to write every month is such a good motivator! Can’t wait to be with you again soon x

  • Glorious truth for Epiphany!
    Thank you, Fiona, and I’m sure all the other Ennegram 3/s are thanking you, too!

    • fiona lynne

      Lol!! Isn’t it just hard to stop doing and just BE?! Happy Epiphany to you x

  • Amy Chumbley

    There’s just so much I love about this that I don’t know where to start! Thanks for the reminder that I am the beloved and that I don’t have to convince God of anything- especially my worth! I love, “It is love alone that starts us on the journey, that sends us into the desert.” Those “deserts” can be so uncomfortable and so long! Yet it is His love that draws us there, teaching us so much along the way! I’m glad the wise men had each other! I’ll be moving near you this summer, would be fun to meet a sister on the journey!

    • fiona lynne

      Oh thank you Amy! Yes, we can end up wandering the desert for much longer than we had hoped. There’s a verse in Hosea that I love that says, “I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” It’s a reminder to me that it is not a place absent of God, but full of his loving tenderness!

      Where are you moving to? My blurb is hopelessly out of date – I’m living in London currently. But anywhere in Europe is close 🙂

      • Amy Chumbley

        We are moving to Spangdahlem, Germany. It’s about 45 minutes from Luxembourg. (London is a bit further but I do hope to visit there!)

        • fiona lynne

          Ah OK! It’s a nice little community there I’ve heard. I’ve still got good friends in Luxembourg that I’d be happy to connect you with if you’d like that, and a great church if you’re ever there on a Sunday. My email is hello@fionalynne.com

          • Amy Chumbley

            Thank you! I just sent an email!

  • Helene Burns

    This is too good…. I too want to join you on this discovery of beholding the wonder. Thank you for this gift. xo

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you Helene, your encouragement always means so much.

  • Your words are so beautiful, wise, and true. Thank you for sharing them. May we keep our eyes and hearts wide open in this new year.

    • fiona lynne

      Amen!

  • Megan Gahan

    The beauty that flows out of you in the precious few moments you have to write always astounds me Fiona. This is such a wonderfully crafted and (as always) wise piece. Thank you for the much needed reminder that our worth is already assured (my life-long struggle, it seems!), and the call practice more beholding. Much love <3

  • “The Magi returned home by a different route. And isn’t that always the way?” Love this.Thank you.

  • Jan Wills

    Fiona, I just happened upon this blog by accident while searching the word “pea”. Your writing is exquisite. It is like reading poetry. I think it was divine direction that lead me to find it. God bless you and your family.

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