I’ve not read much about St. Cuthbert, but I just came across an interesting story. In 651, while serving as a shepherd boy, Cuthbert awoke in the night, gazed up at the sky, and saw a stream of light piercing the darkness, as choirs of angels came down to earth and took back with them a soul of great brightness. The next morning Cuthbert learned that their beloved bishop, St. Aidan, had died nearby at the very hour of Cuthbert’s vision. Cuthbert left his shepherding for a monastery, and some years later took Aidan’s role himself, this vision having launched him into his calling.
What is a vision? It’s when God draws back the curtain on what we ordinarily don’t see – the realities beyond our sight. Thus the name “vision.”
The story reminded me of just how much goes on beyond my sight. Yet in most ways on most days I make my decisions according only to what I see with the eye. And I do so fancying myself a “realist” – one who decides not by wish or fantasy, but according to the facts at hand.
Hmmm. But if it’s only what I see at the moment, then how much of a realist am I? And how wise are my decisions?
It’s part of what the Hebrews writer is getting at with his description of faith as the “conviction of things not seen.” The realist who has met Jesus decides with that not seen in view. Life works much better that way. And it prepares our eyes for when he does draw back the curtain…