… 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 …
(from Aurora Leigh, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
It’s easy to miss the beauty all around us. We live in a world that, in its rush to embrace science and practicality often neglects mystery and majesty. There are signals of transcendence everywhere – in the heavens and on the earth; in the breathtaking colors of a sunrise or the fragile beauty of a spring flower. When we see the perfect organization of the solar system, or of a human body, or of the eye of a bee, we are invited into the Mysterious Love that lies at the heart of things. That Loving and Transcendent Love is the One Jesus taught us to call our Father; the One Jesus reveals, because he and the Father are one!
If we would see great things we must first be willing (and able) to look. Awareness of the beauty that surrounds us is the first step toward actually seeing and appreciating it.
We rush from one thing to the next – always thinking that what we’re up to is so very important. Busy with our own plans and purposes, we forget to be sensitive to our world. We don’t pause to wonder at the perfection of a sunflower, or listen to the song of a mockingbird. The majesty of a sunrise impresses us little; few of us even get up to see it. And when an unexpected (and sometimes inconvenient) person wanders into our day, he or she is virtually invisible to us.
God showers us with gifts every single day – and we rarely open them. Even more rarely do we say thanks.
So here’s an idea for daily discipled living: spend a day a week (for starters) intentionally looking for God’s glory peeking out at us in the great and small things all around you.
Use all your senses:
- What are you smelling today? – Have you enjoyed the fresh smell of the earth after a spring rain, or the aromas coming from a home cooked meal in the making?
- Do you hear the music of the universe coming to you in the songs of birds or crickets or katydids … Listen now, you might even enjoy the sounds of silence.
- Don’t just eat – savor the food that sustains your body. God gave us taste buds to enjoy what we eat and drink, but that’s hard to do when we’re wolfing down our meal hurrying to get to to whatever we’re hurryign to get to.
- Touch things – and enjoy the feeling. There is a simple joy in feeling the contours of a rock in your hand, or the softness of the grass on your feet (yes, it’s okay to walk barefoot every now and then). Hold your child, hug your grandmother, clasp a friends hand, and do it all with awareness.
- And open your eyes. They say, whoever they are, that what you see is what you get. Well, when you look right past the beautiful sunset; or when you don’t stop in awe appreciating the newly blooming orchid, or daisy, or wild flower, you’ve missed heaven cramming into earth. You’re just picking blackberries.
Take off your shoes – you ARE on holy ground, just as surely as Moses was when he stood before the bush ablaze in the desert.