A New Way of Seeing

April 12, 2008 § 1 Comment

Last week I posted pictures of Cherry Blossoms taken while driving (literally) through Washington DC with Katherine. They are famously situated largely around the Washington Monument in our nation’s capitol. Having been raised in South Florida I have had little experience with the seasons. But having now experienced two winters in Maryland (relatively mild by most standards) we have come to appreciate them.

This was driven home to me this afternoon when I returned to the house from the office, only to find one of our daughters in the front yard, barefooted, and playing ‘fetch’ with our dog (that’s right, our other son). In the thick of winter it is easy to get to a place where you wonder if the gray, the cold and the dark will ever end.

And then spring comes – and with it, flowers, smells, the chatter of birds in the morning, and the sweet noise of children outside: skateboarding, shooting hoops and throwing water balloons. There is even an entire block in neighboring Silver Spring – a DC suburb – that is nothing more than a ‘lawn’ of artificial turf that becomes a communal ‘yard’ in spring – where hundreds of people congregate early evenings to sit with their families, throw the Frisbee, eat ice cream and listen to music. Winter coats are replaced by tank tops. Boots have given way to flip-flops. ‘Inside’ has finally surrendered to ‘Outside.’ In truth, all of spring is lovely – the things of nature and the joy and celebration it brings.

One of our lesser-known doctrines is that of Common Grace. Maybe the best way to put it is that there is no corner of the creation that doesn’t somehow, if not in the slightest of ways, reflect the delight of God. This is not to say that God delights in evil or in tragedy – but that sin has not and will not ever have the power to drown out His ‘voice’ from the creation. This is why we can read a poem, listen to a musical offering, marvel at stunning architecture, or admire a painting – that have no overt Christian theme – but display beauty – and in them detect God’s smile.

Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

He doesn’t seem to separate the secular from the spiritual as we often do in church circles. He simply extols the virtue of thinking on ‘such things.’

I take this as a challenge to the Church – a challenge to see the world with a whole new set of eyes, believing that as we celebrate the fingerprints of God on everything and every one, we can be relieved of the instinct to condemn or judge and instead be moved to love and celebrate Him in the creation – even if those who bear the marks of His presence can’t see what we know to be true.

This hit me the other day while reading Elie Wiesel’s short work, Night. It is one of the most disturbing, yet insightful descriptions in print of the Nazi Concentration Camp experience for Holocaust Jews. What struck me was an observation he made at Auschwitz (perhaps the most famous of the death camps). Wiesel was a boy at the time and he spoke of a morning in which, along with fellow prisoners, he was marched out to work. As he and the others were taken to their daily routines – led through that ghastly camp – he detected something he recognized – he smelled the aroma of spring as it blew through.

I dog-eared the page, highlighted the sentence, and then smiled and thanked God that His delight really can’t be thwarted.


§ One Response to A New Way of Seeing

  • I enjoyed reading this post. I really appreciate that the message is to recognize God’s fingerprint everywhere, rather than judging everything not explicitly spiritual as unworthy of attention. God is in not only a just-forming rainbow and the neighbor’s dogwood that just came into full bloom in a single day, but also in Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony and Anna Yezierska’s short stories. I have a friend who’s fond of saying, “It’s all good.”

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