God’s art gallery

Thank God I have seen
an orange sky with purple clouds.
How easy it is to forget that
we have the privilege of living
in God’s art gallery.

–Erica Goros

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Awe and familiarity

Awe is the condition of a man’s spirit realizing Who God is and what He has done for him personally. Our Lord emphasizes the attitude of a child; no attitude can express such solemn awe and familiarity as that of a child.

—Oswald Chambers
(1874 – 1917)

Putting away childish things

When I was 10, I read fairy stories in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am 50, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

–C. S. Lewis
(1898 – 1963)

A world of wonder

Childhood is the world of miracle and wonder; as if creation rose, bathed in the light, out of the darkness, utterly new and fresh and astonishing.  The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us.

–Eugene Ionesco
(1912 – 1994)

Rethinking the Seven Wonders

The sublime wonder of living

The surest way to suppress
our ability to understand
the meaning of God
and the importance of worship
is to take things for granted.
Indifference to
the sublime wonder of living
is the root of sin.

–Abraham Joshua Heschel
(1907 – 1972)

When did you lose your wonder?

 

Imagine the most beautiful scenes you have ever known on this earth—rain forests, the prairie in full bloom, storm clouds over the African savanna, the Alps under a winter snow. Then imagine it all on the day it was born…

Into this world God opens his hand, and the animals spring forth. Myriads of birds, in every shape and size and song, take wing—hawks, herons, warblers. All the creatures of the sea leap into it—whales, dolphins, fish of a thousand colors and designs. Thundering across the plains race immense herds of horses, gazelles, buffalo, running like the wind. It is more astonishing than we could possibly imagine. No wonder “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7. A great hurrah goes up from the heavens!

We have grown dull toward this world in which we live; we have forgotten that it is not normal or scientific in any sense of the word. It is fantastic. It is fairy tale through and through. Really now. Elephants? Caterpillars. Snow? At what point did you lose your wonder of it all?

Even so, once in a while something will come along and shock us right out of our dullness and resignation.

We come round a corner, and there before us is a cricket, a peacock, a stag with horns as big as he. Perhaps we come upon a waterfall, the clouds have made a rainbow in a circle round the sun, or a mouse scampers across the counter, pauses for a moment to twitch his whiskers at you, and disappears into the cupboard. And for a moment we realize we were born into a world astonishing as any fairy tale.

A world made for romance.

–John Eldredge

The eternal appetite of infancy

A child kicks its legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, Do it again; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.

For grown-up people are not strong enough
to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough… It is possible that God says every morning, Do it again, to the sun; and every evening, Do it again, to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

–G. K. Chesterton
(1874 – 1936)

 

The curse that kills wonder

The curse that came before history has laid on us all a tendency to be weary of wonders. If we saw the sun for the first time it would be the most fearful and beautiful of meteors. Now that we see it for the hundreth time we call it, in the hideous and blasphemous phrase of Wordsworth, “the light of common day.”

–G. K. Chesterton
(1874 – 1936)

The wisdom of wonder

The Greek philosophers . . . called the deepest ground of knowing wonder. In wonder the senses are opened for the immediate impression of the world. In wonder the things perceived penetrate the sense fresh and unfiltered. They impose themselves on us. They make an impression on us . . .

People who can no longer be astonished, people who have got used to everything, people who perceive only as a matter of routine and react accordingly: people who live like this let reality pass them by . . .

Wonder is the inexhaustible foundation of our community with each other, with nature, with God.

–Jürgen Moltmann

Mud or miracle?

Jewish tradition says that the splitting of the Red Sea was the greatest miracle ever performed. It was so extraordinary that on that day even a common servant beheld more than all the miracles beheld by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel combined. And yet we have one midrash that mentions two Israelites, Reuven and Shimon, who had a different experience.

Apparently the bottom of the sea, though safe to walk on, was not completely dry but a little muddy, like a beach at low tide. Reuven stepped into it and curled his lip. “What is this muck?”

Shimon scowled, “There’s mud all over the place!”

“This is just like the slime pits of Egypt!” replied Reuven.

“What’s the difference?” complained Shimon. “Mud here, mud there; it’s all the same.”

And so it went for the two of them, grumbling all the way across the bottom of the sea. And, because they never once looked up, they never understood why on the distant shore, everyone else was singing songs of praise. For Reuven and Shimon the miracle never happened.

–Lawrence Kushner

Captivated by wonder

One of the most attractive things about G. K. Chesterton was the unending sense of surprised delight he had for all creation, the world and everything in it. He found newspaper ink to be as wonderful as beach glass, which—it went without saying—was as marvelous to him as any good cigar.

He was as awe-struck and grateful
for the world as a teenager in love,
and he wondered about the unconditional
gift of days that God had given him.

He asked with astonishment, “Why am I allowed two?”—a great question in an age where we expect unending, medically-engineered days.

Chesterton was joyful, because he was grateful; he was grateful because even within his busy life, he was allowed the leisure of silence, with which gift, he was able to wonder. And, as St. Gregory of Nyssa is credited with saying, “only wonder leads to knowing.”

If we cannot wonder, how can we presume to know the Timeless and Eternal God?

–Elizabeth Scalia

The mystery of nature

I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what [C. S.] Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.

–Clyde Kilby (1902 – 1986)

Published in: on 08/16/2012 at 8:28  Leave a Comment  
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Living on a star

If we once realize all this earth as it is, we should find ourselves in a land of miracles:

We shall discover a new planet at the moment
that we discover our own.

Among all the strange things that men have forgotten, the most universal and catastrophic lapse of memory is that by which they have forgotten that they are living on a star.

–G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

Made for enjoyment

I sometimes think that God will ask us,
‘That wonderful world of mine,
why didn’t you enjoy it more?”

–Ronald Blythe

Heaven breaking through

All that is sweet, delightful, and amiable in this world, in the serenity of the air, the fineness of the seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colors, the fragrancy of smells, the splendor of precious stones, is nothing else but Heaven breaking through the veil of this world . . .

–William Law
(1686‑1761)

Rumors of paradise

These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the heart of their worshippers.  For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

–C. S. Lewis

The Sacred Romance

Someone or something has romanced us from the beginning with creek-side singers and pastel sunsets, with the austere majesty of snow capped mountains and the poignant flames of autumn colors telling us of something – or someone – leaving with a promise to return. These things can, in an unguarded moment, bring us to our knees with longing for this something or someone who is lost; someone or something only our hearts recognizes.

–John Eldredge

The scent of Things Unseen

The world, beautiful as it is, is not enough. The beauty itself doesn’t satisfy. It promises satisfaction mirage-like, it can’t provide. Yet the beauty is a mimetic clue, both echo and foretaste, of Things Unseen, an enigmatic hint of Elsewhere which we puzzle over but rarely decipher. He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done. He is everywhere baiting us, prodding, luring us.

He is playing hide-and-seek with heaven and earth,
strewing clues all around, brushing the common-place
with the scent of Things Unseen.

–Mark Buchanan

Reminders of Eden

Beauty is transcendent. It is our most immediate experience of the eternal. Think of what it’s like to behold a gorgeous sunset or the ocean at dawn. Remember the ending of a great story. We yearn to linger, to experience it all our days. Sometimes the beauty is so deep it pierces us with longing. For what? For life as it was meant to be.

Beauty reminds us of an Eden
we have never known, but somehow
our hearts were created for.

–Stasi Eldredge

Surrounded by miracles

Miracles happen everyday.
Change your perception of what a miracle is
and you’ll see them all around you.

–Jon Bon Jove

Published in: on 08/02/2012 at 8:05  Leave a Comment  
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Made to be “spectators”

Every human being is
“formed to be a spectator
of the created world – and given eyes
that he might be led to its Author
by contemplating so beautiful
a representation.”

–John Calvin (1509 – 1564)
Published in: on 07/31/2012 at 10:08  Leave a Comment  
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Seeing with new eyes

Heav’n above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,
Flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His, and He is mine.

–George W. Robinson (1838 – 1877)

Sharing in the wonder

Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder.
Surprise me, amaze me, awe me
in every crevice of your universe.
Each day enrapture me with
your marvelous things without number.
…I do not ask to see the reason for it all:
I ask only to share
the wonder of it all.

–Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907 – 1972)

Name one thing…

Name one thing that is not
ultimately a miracle.

–Author unknown

Published in: on 07/11/2012 at 8:36  Leave a Comment  
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Sacred moments

There are no ordinary moments.

–Dan Millman

The Maker of matter

The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God . . . I do not worship matter. I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take His abode in matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. Never will I cease honoring the matter which wrought my salvation! I honor it, but not as God. Because of this I salute all remaining matter with reverence, because God has filled it with his grace and power. Through it my salvation has come to me.

–St. John of Damascus (675-749)

World-affirming spirituality

[There should be] grateful celebration . . . among us, uninhibited by our lingering evangelical asceticism.  For the truth is that a world-denying Gnosticism has not yet been altogether eradicated from our theology and practice.

Instead, we pride ourselves on our super-spirituality, which is detached from the natural order, and we look forward to an ethereal heaven, forgetting the promise of a new earth…

We should determine, then, to recognize and acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate, all the gifts of the Creator: the glory of the heavens and the earth, of mountain, of river and sea, of forest and flowers, of birds, beasts and butterflies, and of the intricate balance of the natural environment; the unique privileges of our humanness (rational, moral, social, and spiritual), as we were created in God’s image and appointed his stewards; the joys of

gender, marriage, sex, children, parenthood and family life, and of our extended family and friends; the rhythm of work and rest, of daily work  as a means to cooperate with God and serve the common good, and of the Lord’s day when we exchange work for worship; the blessing of peace, freedom, justice and good government, and of food and drink, clothing and shelter; and our human creativity expressed in music, literature, painting, sculpture and drama, and in the skills and strengths displayed in sport.

–John R. Stott

Super natural living

In The Travail of Nature, Paul Santmire invites us to imagine that we are climbing a mountain. There are two alternatives that we are asked to consider as we make our way up the mountain: either we keep our gaze firmly fixed upwards, unaware of all around us as we journey towards the transcendent light above . . .

On the other hand, we may choose to look around us as we make the journey, our eyes drinking in the beauty and glory of the mountain scenery …
look up or look around.

The first perspective – which Santmire describes in the metaphor of ascent – implies a form of spirituality that takes us not just towards God, but away from nature, away from the physical world around us. The second metaphor, that of fecundity (or lush fruitfulness), invites us into an awareness and appreciation of the rich goodness of creation. The second alternative suggests that, in the words of Sally McFague, we need to be not just supernatural Christians, but ‘super, natural’ Christians!

–Graham Buxton

Designed for delight

The world exists, not for what it means but for what it is. The purpose of mushrooms is to be mushrooms; wine is in order to wine: things are precious before they are contributory.

It is a false piety that walks through creation looking only for lessons which can be applied somewhere else.

To be sure, God remains the greatest good; but, for all that, the world is still good in itself. Indeed, since He does not need it, its whole reason for being must lie in its own natural goodness; He has no use for it, only delight.

–Robert Farrar Capon

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