I want to say thank you to those of you who’ve interacted with this series thus far. It seems like it’s striking a chord with many people, and I’m happy to hear. These mental battles of wondering if we’re enough and aiming to cultivate a smaller, more contented life are so common. Press on, friends — and I will try to do the same.
The Part Where There’s an Essay: The Tiny Habit of Curiosity (II)
Curiosity about the world:
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
― Mary Oliver
If we’re willing to be curious about people, God’s dearest creation, we ought to be willing to echo this in a smaller sense: toward the world God made. In doing so, we tap into the design that God has laid down for us and open ourselves up to one of the most powerful forces available to us as human beings: awe -- wonder -- worship.
The Bible is explicit about the presence of “natural revelation,” which is the way God reveals himself to all mankind through the works of creation.
We see it in Psalm 19:1-6:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
We see it in Romans 1:20:
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
The natural world around you has limitless wonders to demonstrate the mind of God. Even though all of creation groans as it waits for redemption (Romans 8:22), it still reflects the genius and beauty of its creator. Unfortunately, most of us are too absorbed in our screen-infested life to take a moment to observe.
The thing with our culture today -- yes, even our church culture -- is that it resists enjoyment. We feel we must justify slowing down and enjoying. “Productivity” reigns supreme.
Yet we live in a world that was made to catch our attention and draw us to God.
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…
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Aurora Leigh”
One of the joys of being around small children is that they are discovering things in the world for the very first time. They are amazed in a way that adults forget how to be. The progress of a flower opening -- a chrysalis bearing forth a butterfly -- a sky streaked with color -- these are new and enjoyable things to little ones. They can be for us, as well.
Let’s not be content with “plucking blackberries!”
For the Anglophiles
Reads & Listens of the Week
Find Your People…Offline “The more I work and live in a mostly online world, the more certain I am that my life’s most important relationships are those grounded in physical proximity: People I can grab coffee with without getting on a plane. People I pray with in a living room or church sanctuary on a weekly basis.”
The Lost Jeopardy Tapes: Here’s a bizarre story about a woman who won five straight games on Jeopardy and then disappeared from the show’s archive. “Over time, the mythos around Lowe—the fake identities, the poor sportsmanship, the beef with Trebek—calcified into what even, or perhaps especially, the people most eager to find the tapes believed was the real story. That she never came forward to explain her side of what happened seemed to only strengthen the tale.”
Midlife and the Strivers Curse: “There are things about this season worth grieving and things worth celebrating. I’m learning—albeit slowly—to recognize the lies I’ve believed from the culture, the enemy, and my own sinful heart.”
…what else is the pleasure of good food and laughter with friends and a walk on a beautiful path but the means of grace through which God nurtures us? - O. Alan Noble, On Getting Out of Bed
Loved this essay. It made me think of The Secret Garden; God can use nature to take our eyes off ourselves, which in turn can bring much joy and peace.