Finding Light in a Darkroom

The art of meditating on scripture involves using one’s imagination. Instead of simply reading a passage, we must read it, close our eyes, and visualize the scene. We might even put ourselves into the picture. That’s what Austin Miles did over a century ago.

C. Austin Miles was a pharmacist who began writing gospel songs and eventually became an editor of hymnals and songbooks, as well as a popular music director at camp meetings, conventions, and churches. His hobby was photography, and he found his darkroom perfect for developing, not just photographs, but his devotional life. In its privacy and strange blue glow, Miles could read his bible in total privacy.

One day in March 1912, while waiting for some film to develop, he opened the Bible to his favorite chapter, John 20, the story of the first Easter. Miles later said, “As I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene…My hands were resting on the Bible while I stared at the light blue wall. As the light faded, I seemed to be standing at the entrance of a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head bowed, hand clasping her throat as if to choke back her sobs, walked slowly into the shadows. It was Mary. As she came to the tomb—upon which she placed her hand—she bent over to look in and hurried away. John, in flowing robe, appeared, looking at the tomb; then came Peter, who entered the tomb, followed slowly by John.

“As they departed, Mary reappeared, leaning her head upon her arm at the tomb. She wept. Turning herself, she saw Jesus standing; so did I. I knew it was He. She knelt before him, with arms outstretched and looking into his face, cried, “’Rabboni!’

“I awakened in full light, gripping my Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision, I wrote as quickly as the words would be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music.”

And the poem Austin Miles wrote?

I come to the garden alone,

While the dew is still on the roses;

And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,

The Son of God discloses.

And he walks with me and he talks with me,

And he tells me I am his own;

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

Yours for the mission,

Pastor Dave

Source: “Then Sing My Soul: Special Edition” by Robert Morgan

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