Cloud of Faith

"Only when the cloud lifted did they go forward" (Exodus 46:37).

During the long journey through the Sinai desert, and in particular after Moses receives the tablets of the commandments from God, he makes a kind of traveling structure called the "Dwelling" in the meeting tent. There he places the the Ark of the Covenant, which contains the tablets, and surrounds it with a curtain. 

A thick cloud descends on the Dwelling when the glory of God fills the tent, and this cloud also serves to designate the area as sacred. The symbolism serves to convey the awesome nature of God's Holiness, veiled by a curtain and shrouded in cloud. The mystery of God is presented as a cloud that comes to rest on the community when they are encamped, but lifts when it is time to move forward. God guides the journey,  telling the people when to move and when to halt and wait. 

The parables of Jesus seem simple, but they too reveal their message in stages, veiled and in a cloud, and understanding them requires patience and prayer. A single parable, like the one in today's Gospel that compares God's Kingdom to a dragnet, will offer different lessons to different people at different stages in their search for God. A net cast into the sea collects all kinds of things, some of value and some not.  How will we know? Only with experience and wisdom. Our interpretation of the parable will change the more we unpack its questions in the light of our experiences.  All of the parables of Jesus are journeys. He accompanies us through life and teaches us what we need when we need to know it.

If you feel your life is in a cloud, perhaps that cloud contains God. Faith asks us to trust and be patient when we cannot see clearly. We will go forward when God shows us the way.  If you feel your life has caught so many things, people and experiences that you no longer know what is important or worth keeping, God will help you discern what is of value and what to let go of. In any case, God is always traveling with us, even if we cannot see or feel the divine presence.