Five different translations of Exodus 33:18-23 were read to us at a recent community meeting as a lectio exercise. This was a powerful way to pray and to prepare for the said meeting. Every time I heard the reading, it seems as though a different, yet related idea spoke more insistently to me. As I listened to each of the readings and allowed myself to enter the story and meditate on it, I jotted down the thoughts that came to my heart.
Exodus 33:18-33 (RSVCE)
Moses said, “I pray thee, show me thy glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
God keeps us safe in the hollow of the rock;
His hand protects us, even from his own power.
God’s face is too much for us to bear;
We can only stand what God reveals of himself to us.
God keeps us close;
We stand in his shadow.
God’s presence envelopes us:
Comforting, compassionate, merciful.
God is always with us;
God Who Is.
Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau
Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau is in her first monastic profession at Saint Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from Quebec, Canada, she lived in the Southeastern United States for 16 years before coming to Duluth. She did research in the field of exercise physiology for over years, and more recently completed a graduate degree in theology, while volunteering in parishes, giving workshops and retreats.