Thursday, October 21, 2010

observing beauty

As the bus rounded the interstate off-ramp, my eye caught a glimpse of something glorious.  Waiting for the bus to finish it's last few turns, I stepped onto the sidewalk and turned to see the most gorgeous rainbow I'd seen in years.  It stretched thousands of feet in the air, a perfect semi-circle in which every color from red to violet was visible.  I stood mesmerized. I stood alone. All the other passengers hurried past, never stopping to take in something of true beauty.  As the author of Genesis described it, the very bow of God (Genesis 9:13). Imagine that. My bus co-riders had frazzled through their day at work, and they now frazzled through their evening and past the marvelous.

Why didn't they stop? Among all the ugliness of the world, there are still truly beautiful things to be seen. Or perhaps beautiful truth to be seen. Refreshing and enlivening truth. Millions travel to see the grand canyon without ever stopping to let its beauty touch them. Billions walk through the everyday oblivious to nature, and art, and life that should point us to something bigger than ourselves. We consume it rather than savor it.  If my new-found photography hobby has had no other benefit, my efforts have opened my eyes to the wonder all around. Besides the intentional focus required for photography, the practical difficulties of capturing something's essence--in low light, for example, or maybe as the focal point in the moment, perhaps a beautiful little girl without a goat's rear-end in the frame--cause me to be amazed (Psalm 139:14) by the gift of sight itself. My eyes captures things at sensitivity and focal lengths that shame the most expensive of cameras. And I waste (Psalm 119:37) them.

Maybe it's the frequency with which we get to observe these things that callouses our souls to their impact. The word "natural" becomes synonymous with "common" when everyday nature communicates the infinite and eternal (Romans 1:20). That's a tragic loss for which we are culpable. Maybe it's our idolatry to novelty. That's a lousy trade. Perhaps it's our refusal to see the truth staring us in the face that deadens our hearts. I can imagine God surveying the entirety of creation and exulting "it is good". I can't imagine him seeing the universe he designed to point us to him with indifference as we do.

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