Updated: May 22
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. . .1
Twas the theme of my weekend conference in Indianapolis, and though I landed back in Raleigh after Midnight, I just keep thinking about how Beautyenchants. True beauty speaks of God because it finds its source in him.
Let's take a journey back to those five awe-inspiring days of Creation . . . those days before humans inhabited the planet.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Of course, he went on from there to separate light from darkness, water from dry ground; God created trees and plants, stars and planets, animals and … well, after each day’s work of creating, God “saw that it was good” …
And then what? He created Adam, then Eve … and if we pause before turning the page to Genesis chapter 3, we can just dwell in created perfection—
ah, life as it was meant to be.
(perhaps you would like to read and remember the creation record:
Oh, if only we could just hit the “pause” button and stay a while in that Edenic environment, when all of nature was in harmony. Are you a gardener? How I love my roses and peonies, penstemon and lavender! Imagine with me the trees and flowers in Eden-- Red velvet sunflowers the size of plates and many-petaled English roses, resplendent in whites, pinks and reds … delicate freesias spilling onto the pathway, ambling toward a rippling brook. Don’t you see, the Garden was perfect!
And God yet creates—do you realize that? “Using the same old materials of earth, air, fire, and water, every twenty-four hours God creates something new from them. If you think you’re seeing the same show all over again seven times a week, you’re crazy. Every morning you wake up to something that in all eternity never was before and never will be again. And the you that wakes up was never the same before and will never be the same again either.”2
I am wondering this day if you would let God’s creation wow you. Do you ever take a moment to go out and look up at the night sky, and find yourself thinking of the beauty God creates?
As the psalmist expressed~
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 reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; `
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth. Psalm 19.1-6
And then I remember from my youth, something that tickles my mind:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? What am I, God, that you should think of me?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them—crowned us!--with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.3
O, to slow enough. . . to be intentional enough
to see God's beauty
and to join him in creating more.
The sky pictured below was one such day. California had closed our churches, but I was blessed enough to have a safe space to open the Bible and teach, sing songs of worship and pray, in the out-of-doors, with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, changing variable skies above. It was the morning of August 13, 2020, when I looked up and beheld God's footprints above us. Ohhhhhh, my.
The sunflower pictured above I grew from a seed. Even we get to participate in creating beauty with God. And that is very good.
Earth's crammed with heaven, so don't just eat blackberries.
For the Beauty of the earth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7ve8S8HFfA
1 - Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh: Book 7, 1856
2 - Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC
3 - Psalm 8.3-8 (the pink words? personal application, not part of Scripture)