Monday, September 2, 2013

For the Beauty of the Earth . . .

Beauty touches beauty at Moraine Lake
Jamie and I are residing in beauty, totally surrounded by enormous mountains, stunning lakes, and the straightest pines we have ever seen. The Canadian Rockies are one of God's most extravagant designs.

As we toodle around Banff National Park, it is easy to pause, take in the view, and snap a few pictures which will never capture the grandeur and scope of the landscape. But we do this to touch the scenery and to later remember where we were.

On Sunday afternoon, we walk past the Roman Catholic church in Canmore. The priest has chained the parking lot to keep out the tourists. "Mass has concluded, stay out of here" is the unfortunate message. Apart from the obvious breach of hospitality, this belies the unfortunate split between the God who is revealed in scripture and the same God who leaves fingerprints all over the beautiful world.

My favorite "unreal" body of water: Peyto Lake

In territory that looks like this, I can understand why people are outside, enjoying nature. The splendor is compelling. I lament how some of my fellow clergy lack the imagination to find and describe the intersection between heaven and earth. Like a lot of others, they tend to choose one over the other, forgetting that Christ is the One who holds all things together.

Is this Bow Lake - or merely a copy?

Christian people need to be around beauty, especially like this. It lifts them out of temporal distress. It corrects their arrogance by reminding them of how small and limited we are. It prompts them to envision a great God whose power and abundance surpasses everything we see and know. This is grace in granite.

Along the Icefields Parkway
For the life of me, I cannot imagine anyone looking at these mountains and claiming they were an accident. God has been here. The Spirit blows in the bracing wind.

I guess that is why I am here. Not as a tourist but as a pilgrim. As we travel up the Icefields Parkway, surrounded by 10,000 foot-high blocks of granite, I imagine the Creator's good pleasure in conjuring all of this out of the soil.

Rundle Mountain, overlooking Banff Township

I also imagine God's delight when the children made in the divine image see the holy handiwork and exclaim, "Wow! Thanks for giving us a world that looks like this."

Takakkaw Falls, at full power

1 comment:

  1. We watched PBS documentary on Yosemite last night. John Muir's journey and writings are echoing in my mind today. His faith was shaped by Yosemite and God's creation. I long for time in the mountains. Here are 2 of my favorite quotes -
    "No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening - still all is Beauty!"

    "In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware."

    Blessings in your last days of your sabbatical.