“The cosmos continuously declares the glory of God…” (Psalm 19:1)
I came across a single flower growing in a meadow today—a tiny purple blossom that was “wasting its sweetness in the desert air.” I’m sure no one had ever seen it before, and perhaps no one will ever see it again. “Why this waste?” I thought.
Nature, however, is never wasted. It daily reveals the truth and goodness and beauty that brought it into being. Every morning it offers a new and fresh declaration of God’s presence. Do I see Him through that beauty, or do I merely glance at beauty and shrug it off in shoddy indifference?
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 18th century English poet and philosopher, observed two tourists looking at a magnificent waterfall. One said it was “pretty” the other said it was “sublime.” Coleridge thought the first response was silly, the second was exactly right, for sublime means “awe-inspiring,” and “worthy of worship.”
Worship is the only adequate response to beauty when we behold it, for creation’s glory is a reflection of the glory of God. “Glory” suggests an epiphany (a shining out or a manifestation) of God and is, or so I believe, the biblical word, for “beauty.” Theologian Herman Bavinek said as much: “For the beauty of the Lord, scripture has a special word: glory.” God’s beauty is the penetrating light that shines out through all creation.
The word, “translucence” comes to mind. It suggests the capacity of all creation to take on something of God’s beauty and allow that beauty to “pass through” to our eyes. Our task, in turn is to grow eyes that look not merely at, but through the object to the beauty that lies beyond it and to think, “How beautiful must be He who made this beautiful thing?”
Thus, our response to beauty, when we behold it, should be worship, adoration, and thanksgiving—for the radiance of a corn flower, the splendor of a morning sunrise, the symmetry of one particular tree—for all nature declares the ineffable beauty of the One who made it.
C. S. Lewis was walking with a friend as they talked about worship and gratitude. Lewis wanted to know how to generate a thankful heart toward God, and asked, “Should we summon up all we know about God and his greatness?” His friend turned to a brook nearby (it was a very hot day) and splashed his face and hands in a little waterfall and said, “Why not begin with this?”
A little waterfall, a wind in the willows, a baby robin, the rose moles on a brook trout, a tiny flower. Why not begin with this?