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Rachel Marie Stone


"Endlessly Overflowing"

An invitation to sacramental wonder.

Like many children, I loved iridescent things—glitter, tinsel, the sparkles on the bay at sunset, jewelry. One of my cherished possessions was an impossibly tiny gold chain necklace graced by an equally tiny pendant consisting of a chip of a diamond set in fragments of white gold. It was given me by a faithful, much-beloved, and too-soon-departed saint of our congregation, a woman who rocked me and sang to me in the church nursery so that my barely adult parents could go to Bible studies and counseling sessions and grow in their fledgling faith. A few weeks before her death, she called me to wish me a happy third birthday. Her strained and tired voice, coming through the yellow rotary phone, spoke of her love for me—and gave me my earliest clear memory.

Years after her death, someone else gave me a glittering necklace of plastic beads with a glass heart pendant, which held a small quantity of cheap fragrance. As I readied for church one Sunday, I left the diamond-and-gold necklace on top of my dresser and put on the glass one. In my absence, the cat batted it off the dresser. Weeks later it turned up, crushed, tangled, and seemingly irreparable. My grief and guilt were considerable.

Now I can see that there may have been a parable of sorts in my forsaking gold and diamonds for plastic, but then, my faith was of the sort which suggested that to set much store in beautiful but ultimately frivolous things was spiritually unsound. So I tried to talk myself out of my sadness. Even so, whenever the hymn implored me to

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

I pictured my beautiful "things of earth"—my destroyed jewelry, my sequined sweaters, the shimmer of the Long Island Sound I so deeply loved—and felt a little guilty, because, much as I loved Jesus, those beautiful things never did seem to grow strangely dim. Instead they ...

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