Jun 6 2012

The Shadow of God

Anne Morrow Lindbergh once wrote, “I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwoods.”  After spending quite a bit of time this past week photographing the white blossoms on the magnolia tree in our yard, I can see how Lindbergh wrote what she did.  The magnolia blossom is a wondrous delight to behold from a distance but an even greater joy to look at close up.  As I pointed my macro lens at a single blossom (all of the pictures shown here were taken of the same flower) I found myself amazed at its outstanding beauty.  In fact, I wondered how one tree could produce so many exquisite flowers.

I also have to admit that while photographing this blossom I sensed the presence of God.  Maybe it was the flower’s white color, symbolizing purity and holiness.  Maybe it was the cone’s golden color, representing royalty.  Or perhaps it was simply the overall beauty of the flower itself.  I am convinced that there is a connection between God and beauty.

I am certainly not the only one who has felt this connection.  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting—a wayside sacrament.”  Gabriela Mistral said something similar; she said beauty “is the shadow of God on the universe.”  In the magnolia blossom it is easy to see God’s handwriting, not difficult at all to sense the shadow of God.

Long ago Confucius noted “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.”  I suspect he is right.  Most people would likely acknowledge that magnolia flowers are beautiful, but I’m not sure they can know just how beautiful without doing what I did—getting close to them and carefully observing their features.   Even with magnolia blossoms it takes some effort and time to truly appreciate their beauty.  In other things their beauty might not be obvious at all, but if we will take the time to look closely at them and study their purpose, we will come to see the beauty that is inherent in each thing God has created.

No one ever said “seeing Creation” is easy work (at least, I don’t think they have).  It is instead a spiritual discipline that requires much effort and a good deal of time.  It is, however, worth the effort because it enables one to see the beauty that lies in everything.  It is worth the effort because it allows us to read God’s handwriting and sense His shadow on the universe.  I plan to keep working on seeing Creation and I hope you will as well.


Jul 22 2009

Some Thoughts on Beauty

AZ Barber Pole Paria Wilderness“He has made everything beautiful in its time…” Ecclesiastes 3:11

My younger sister, Betty, is a regular reader of our blog.  Earlier today she sent me a couple of quotes she thought I might find interesting.  One is a Turkish proverb that says “A heart in love with beauty never grows old.” The other quotation comes from the pen of D. H. Lawrence: “The human soul needs actual beauty more than bread.” The common denominator in these two sayings is, of course, beauty.  My sister’s e-mail got me to thinking about what others have said about beauty.

In words similar to Lawrence’s, John Muir wrote “Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” Elsewhere Muir said, “No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty.  Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening—still all is Beauty!”

Apparently Muir and Ralph Waldo Emerson concurred on this connection between God and beauty for Emerson wrote, “Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting—a wayside sacrament.  Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.”

No matter where we live there is much beauty to behold.  If we will take time to notice it and contemplate it we truly will find food for our soul.  And in ways I cannot fully explain, we will also find God.

–Chuck Summers

Jun 25 2009

All I Have Seen…

brown-bear-1721I have a beautiful poster of calligraphy framed that I see every time I leave the house.  The artwork is done by Timothy R. Botts.  In the middle of the picture are words from Ralph Waldo Emerson that say “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”  Encircling the text are the names of forty-one items that Botts apparently thought demonstrated what Emerson was talking about.  Among the items there are butterfly, starfish, Old Faithful, Redwoods, snowflake, tadpoles, coral, honeybee, the tides, the Grand Canyon and Saturn. 

Looking at Botts’ list makes me wonder what I would have chosen had I been the calligrapher.  I suspect I would have added items like grizzly bear (like the one shown here in Alaska), lightning bug, showy orchis, Moraine Lake, pika, Grand Tetons, and a number of other things “I have seen.”

Looking at Botts’ list also made me wonder what you, our readers, would place on  such a list.  Rob and I would be interested to know what you have seen that has helped you know that you could trust the Creator.  We encourage you to let us know by leaving us a comment. 

–Chuck Summers