Monday, October 2, 2006


Last Wednesday, I sat and laid under a tree for over an hour. It's been a while since I've done that. A long while, in fact - perhaps not since I've gotten to college, with the possible exception of doing so at some point while at Glorieta last spring break. My friend Emily was there, and she and I talked off and on... but mostly, I simply laid under the tree, staring up into its branches and thinking and praying. She had homework to do - I had meditation to do.

I'm not talking any sort of Eastern meditation or transcendental meditation; stay as far from those as you can. I'm speaking instead of a quiet, relaxed, focusing on God - in prayer, in contemplation of His character, in consideration of His work in my life, in comprehension of the magnificence of His creation. There is something about sitting under a tree, staring up into its branches, that just makes it easy to let go of everything else, to forget that there are thousands of people not terribly far away, and just think about God.

Staring up into the branches of that tree, I was able to pray for those I know that needed prayer. I was able to deal with certain struggles in my life, to let go of certain conflicts in my heart and trust them to my Lord. And above all, I was increasingly moved to consider the wonder of who my God is. There was one particular moment - in an echo of many, many similar moments past - when gazing up into the swaying branches, I was caught for a moment by their structure, their integrity; and for a moment it was as if my mind leapt past what my eyes could see, racing down to the inmost structure of the tree: flying down the scale from my perspective through the system to the cell biology to the genetics to the very molecular and atomic structures that made the tree what it was, that gave it its nature and held it together. And it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever glimpsed. Occasionally, God gives me that kind of little glimpse of the true glory of things. It comes in different ways - sometimes it's a comprehension of just how vast our world and our universe are; sometimes in the sense of how tiny the details that make it all up are; sometimes in a mix of the two. Always, it leaves me wanting to leap higher and dance more passionately and shout louder than I ever could, just to somehow express the incredible wonder of God's greatness. Because that's all I can ever think about when He gives me that vision - how great, how awesome is the God that made all of this!

Many people I know find it a bit odd that I see physics, biology, and the like as beautiful. Or they don't understand how I can actually appreciate music when I'm caught up in considering the technique and theory behind what is being played. For them, understanding the physics of a sunset is a distraction; so is thinking about the harmonic progressions at the end of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. To me, understanding those things only enhances the beauty. To be sure, I may not be able to sit back and be immersed in the sound without any analysis - but then, I also have to note that I really never cease analyzing and considering the things going on around me. Thus, for me, the greater my understanding of the reality and the nature of any given subject, the greater is its beauty in my eyes.

All of that is, in some sense, just a metaphor, I think, through which God is teaching me that to truly appreciate the glory, the majesty, the phenomenal beauty of who He is, I have to know Him more, better, deeper. And the more I pursue Him, the more I seek to have my heart follow hard after Him and Him alone, the more I find that to be true. His is an intoxicating beauty, a phenomenal depth of wonder and breadth of greatness. The more I understand physics, or music, or philosophy, or history, or anything, the more it turns me to worship Him. And the more I pursue Him, the more I see just how clearly and plainly every other created thing points to Him and Him alone.

Go sit under a tree. You might just catch a glimpse of God's glory in a way you haven't before. Grace and peace be with you; and may our Lord guard ever over your hearts and minds!

- Chris

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