In wisdom’s unveiling, a hermit’s prayer unveils the uncreated light of the countenance of God, revealing the glory of graced wholeness. The hermit does not just pray the Psalms, she enters the heart of the Psalms in the One, true Spirit that inspired them. “Turn us again, O Lord, God of hosts: shew the light of thy countenance and we shall be whole” (Psalm 80:19). Psalm 80 repeats variations of this refrain in verses 3; 7; and 14 as well as verse 19 and in Miles Coverdale’s translation of 1535, adopted by his Great Bible of 1539 and the Book of Common Prayer in 1549, the English speaking world has prayed this refrain as a prayer for wholeness. The Authorised Version of 1611 reads: “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts: cause thy face to shine and we shall be saved,” and the ESV 2008 reads: “Restore us, O Lord , God of hosts, let your face shine, that we might be saved.” A hermit’s prayer of this Psalm has always opened to wisdom’s vision of the countenance of God, not merely to a prayer for salvation, although salvation, in fact, has always been restoration of the vision of God, wisdom’s vision of God in uncreated light, wisdom’s unveiling of the glory of the countenance of God. Moreover, salvation has always been deifying wholeness, not just a future, individualistic deliverance. When a hermit prays this refrain in Coverdale’s English, true catholicity is uncovered, wholeness rooted and grounded in God, hallowing healing of every divisive confusion. The hosts, Sabaoth, referred to here, are the angels and saints of heaven with whom the hermit is in unbroken communion.
Wholeness is the fundamental sustenance of every hermit, the reason the hermit leaves the world and enters the desert, the cause of the hermit’s solitude and the principle of her stillness. What God then reveals is not her whim but God’s holy will, and whilst Mother Julian was given her Revelations of Divine Love, others are given wisdom songs or music that communicates wisdom’s vision of the blessed Countenance of God. Whatever God inspires, God heals and makes whole, liberating and releasing the heart. Wisdom hermitages are rarely understood or deemed worthy of support, but the fact is that they turn hearts, turn earth into heaven, show forth the uncreated light of the face of grace, unveiling the glory of grace to seers. Grace pervades everything in every direction when hermits bear witness to the glory of wisdom, beholding the light of the countenance of God. Hearts are purified by a hermit’s silence and illumined by a hermit’s stillness, even though the hermitage is almost invisible, hidden with Christ in God. Vibrantly alive, stillness meets every situation with clarity and freedom. Without sectarian obsession or conventional conformism, stillness liberates. Wholeness communicates hallowing communion to angels and saints, whose hearts are emptied of fear and filled with love. Wholeness is steadfast openness, liberating fear’s obsessions as they arise and release.
Wisdom hermitages are often not understood because they are calling us out from what is shallow and narrow into wisdom’s glorious openness. The Spirit moves with a gentle, mighty flow, centering where the Name is hallowed and the face of grace is unveiled. No wonder a hermit does not exist in conventional religious circles or in worldly, secular worlds. Just a few in every generation see beyond their minds and sense the self-evidence of hallowing presence. Among these, a few become hermits and a few more support hermits, opening new ways to emerge pure and clear from the confusions of delusion. Praying the Psalms to the point of vision, hallowing the Name to the point of glory, hermits openly pass through to freedom. Poverty for them is wealth beyond imagining, because God is their Beloved, ground of timeless well-being, full of grace and truth. Peace and security, free from anxiety, has nothing fundamentally to do with income but with turning that turns everything round, with seeing that sees through the pretensions of fear, curing every delusion that insinuates fear where love wants to reign in glory. In stillness, there is no division between poverty and wealth, lack or fulness, because glory turns everything right round. Then, solitude is graced union and poverty is hallowing communion, praying the Psalm refrain as lived wholeness. “Turn us again, O Lord, God of hosts: shew the light of thy countenance and we shall be whole.”