Glory Abounds: On Water, Light, and Life

by | Apr 10, 2012 | Blogs


If you’ve ever been on a plane, seated near the window with the sun high on the opposite side of the aircraft, and if you’ve looked down from that height, you may have seen something like a circular rainbow following along.

Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s like an aura from the sunlight behind you reflected on the clouds below. On a recent flight I saw such an aura, sometimes called a corona (no, not the beer but the Spanish for crown), but this time – sober as a rock, I promise – I saw something else.

It was shortly after takeoff and we were still flying low over the cloud cover when I noticed, at the heart of the aura, the shadow of the airplane itself. This I’d never seen before. So I did a little research (okay, you and I both know that “a little research” is code for “Google-search,” I trust you’ll forgive me). But my research did uncover that I wasn’t hallucinating, that these coronas are real, much cheaper than the in-flight cocktails, and that the type I’m describing falls into the category of “pseudohelions” (false suns). More specifically, the shadow surrounded corona that I saw is sometimes called a “glory.”

I paused as I read that. “Huh? Glory?” And then I smiled to myself, “Go figure.”


What is glory? Well, in this sense, a glory is the result of the right combination of water (cloud), light (sun), and point of view (between cloud and light). If we understand “point of view” as our own perspective, would it be too far to stretch this combination of phenomena into the familiar (Lenten) sequence of water, light, and life? Am I crazy? Is it the Coronas talking or does this crown of light remind us of our baptismal birthright as prophets, priests, and kings?

What is glorious? Maybe to find ourselves lifted above the clouds and into the light. Maybe to experience ourselves aloft and from that height to feel the sun on our back and to notice, in the clouds below, our ever-present shadow.  Only this time to see that shadow surrounded by a rainbow of light; to experience ourselves soaring, glorious, and crowned; to remember that in our baptism we were made prophet, priest, and king.

I’m wary of pride, but I love glory. I pursue it, praise it and hope to magnify it. I want to dive in and swim in it, not for my sake, but rather (A.M.D.G. baby!) for the greater glory of God.

Pride ain’t pretty. I realize (becauseIveseenthemovie) that you take a risk standing on Pride Rock; unless, of course, you belong there. Then you’re glorious.

We are not the source of glory – that’s the sun’s job. But when we see our lives from God’s perspective, when we stand between the water and the light, between baptism and Christ, we are crowned in glory by that merciful combination. So, the next time you fly, for the greater glory of God, ask for a corona, demand a crown, not because you’re proud but because you’re beloved.

You deserve it. You belong there. And you glorify God by your life.


Brendan Busse, SJ   /   All posts by Brendan