Friday, March 26, 2010

The Beauty of Nature

Grab a camera. Scan the world. What will you capture?

Beauty. Without even thinking, we search for beauty...

…if not classical beauty, then the beauty of the odd, the subliminal beauty of a curiosity or a fragment of human emotion. Click.

It’s remarkable isn’t it—a myriad of forms so present, yet beyond us, that beauty feels like God.

No wonder nature is worshipped. We look to nature for evidence of a Maker. The striations of an iris, a finger print, not just the way the smallest particles of dust can turn a sunset aflame, but that its crimson allure forces me to stop and acknowledge its presence.

Yet beauty does not in any way reach back to address our adoration.

And there it is: God never promises to be present in nature. Nature only bears witness to God.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
 (Psalm 19:1-4)

I have friends who shun going to church. It seems the hypocrisy and annoyance of people gets in the way of their communing with God. Yet, I wonder if their experience of looking for God in nature can be like getting to know someone by staring at their picture—or reading about their attributes on Face Book.

I’m not saying that seeking God in books or the Word is without wisdom. Or that going out into nature is without value in focusing one’s mind on God. It just occurs to me that if a person wants direct contact with God…

… where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matt 18:20)

Interesting, no?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Writers talk about “suspension of disbelief”. In fact, it is the essential ingredient in storytelling, the ability to cause a listener to enter the adventure—to partake of a proposed reality without skepticism. No holding back.

Dreams have this genius. We participate in their reality no matter how birarre.

Falling. Flying. Elevators that go sideways, nakedness that goes unnoticed to a room full of people.

Dreams flawlessly slip from one reality into another; my newborn baby walks and talks while I urgently try to find the class I haven’t been to all semester. I am under water. Slowly, so very slowly, I inhale. The rules of this place are so completely apprehended that the mind no longer questions the laws: the reversal—inhale to exhale—must be seamless in order to breathe underwater.

In dreams there is no choosing to believe or doubt. Disbelief does not exist.

Yes, I am breathing underwater, if only tenuously. And well, it does not feel miraculous. But it feels like I’ve uncovered a new possibility.

Dreams. Could this be an odd template for faith...

… a persistent and birarre model for the suspension of disbelief?

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Renewal. The mind must be, not just trained, but re-newed in order to suspend disbelief.

Can renewal change the mind so it no longer depends on doubt to be the catalyst for courage?

Is it within our grasp to see things as God sees them? Wouldn’t that be perfection?

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect. What do you think that means?