Nov 11 2012

One Pixel

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Matthew 5:8

If you want to get a photographer’s attention, just mention the word “pixel.”  Pixels are what make up the pictures we take in the digital age.  A pixel is actually quite small which is why you hear people talk about megapixels.   Every digital photograph taken these days is made up of thousands and thousands of pixels. A single pixel will not capture an image but that does not mean that each pixel is not important or doesn’t play a role in the overall picture.  Why am I talking about that here?  There’s a reason.

A few days ago I had the chance to hear William Paul Young speak at the University of Pikeville.  Young is the author of The Shack, a story he originally wrote for his kids alone but that has gone on to sell 19 million copies worldwide.  In the midst of his presentation Thursday night he said something to the effect that “we are all one pixel that makes up the picture that is the face of God.”  Being a photographer, when Young used the word pixel it certainly did get my attention.  He was speaking my language.  By what he said, however, he did more than get my attention, the idea also captured my imagination.  I love the thought that you and I are one pixel that helps make up the picture of the face of God.  It is a reminder that every one of us is important and plays a vital role in the revelation of God.  You need me to fully understand what God looks like and I need you.  We even need those folks that we don’t like, or who may not look or think like us, to get the complete picture.

I think I would add to Young’s statement that everything that God has made should also be seen as “one pixel” that helps us see more clearly the face of God.  In doing so I’d hardly be the first person to suggest this.  Writing long ago Thomas Aquinas said, “No one species can attain to the likeness of God.  Neither can any single creature express the full likeness of God because it cannot be equal to God.  The presence of multiplicity and variety among created things was therefore necessary in order that a perfect likeness to God be found in them according to their manner of being.”  In The Imitation of Christ Thomas a’ Kempis echoes this thought: If thy heart were right, then every creature would be a mirror of life and a book of holy doctrine.  There is no creature so small and abject, but it reflects the goodness of God.”

The Scriptures affirm that God is the Creator of all that exists.  Everything God has made is a work of art that bears His soul and reveals something about Him.  As Thomas a Kempis suggests, if our hearts were right we would recognize this and in the process we would come to see a much clearer picture of the face of God.  We would also come to realize that all that God has made is important and plays a vital role in Creation.  Yes, everything God has made is there for a reason.  We may not understand exactly what that reason is but that gives us no right to dismiss or minimize its importance.  If nothing else it is there to show us a clearer picture of the face of God.  To me that is reason enough to respect and appreciate all that God has made.  To get the clearest picture of God’s face we can we are going to need all the pixels we can get and that includes yours and mine.


(I took the image of Sandhill Cranes in flight in New Mexico, the pika in Alberta, Canada, and the banana slug in California.)



Apr 25 2010

Seeing God’s Goodness

possum 736Today was Earth Stewardship Sunday in my denomination.  In our service this morning we sang songs related to Creation and I preached a message emphasizing the importance of being good stewards of Creation.  In my message I used a quotation from Thomas Aquinas that I’d like to share with you.  Speaking of the created order Aquinas said God “brought these things into being in order that His goodness might be communicated to creatures and be represented by them; and because His goodness could not be adequately represented by one creature alone the whole universe participates in the divine goodness more perfectly and represents it better than any single creature.”

I find this line of thought fascinating.  According to Aquinas, one reason we find such a variety in Creation is because it takes all that God has made to help us understand His divine goodness.  This gives value to everything that exists.  It also creates a mandate that we do everything we can to preserve all that God has made.  When we destroy Creation or cause plant and animal species to go extinct we actually eliminate ways we might have experienced God’s goodness otherwise.

Meister Eckhart once said “every creature is a word of God and a book about God.”  I believe this is true, even if I can’t tell you just what the baby possum I photographed last week (see above) says about the Creator.   Part of me wants to say it shows us that God has a sense of humor but really all I have to do is look in the mirror to be reminded of that.  I suspect if I just took the time to study possums, or spend more time with them, I could discern divine truths.  But that’s the problem, isn’t it?  It takes time and effort.  How many of us are willing to take the time to try and figure such things out?  If we could somehow remember that experiencing a greater comprehension of God’s goodness is at stake perhaps we would be more willing to put forth the effort.

God’s goodness is waiting to be seen in His Creation.  Are you looking?