Echoes

Certain things make me feel like I’m falling in love.

They aren’t typically things that every single person would sit and marvel at. They aren’t even things that everyone enjoys. But sometimes, when I’m very quiet, and when my heart is open, I can feel them moving my heart.

Snow-covered mountains.

Silent winter nights.

Snowfall.

The sunset.

That moment of leaving a night of conversation with good friends.

Seeing my breath in the air.

Listening to the sweet, melodious sound of a violin, cello or piano.

Looking directly into the eyes of someone you truly care for…and smiling warmly as they return the favor.

These things move my heart in a way that few other things can. It all sounds rather emotional and elementary; however, in this regard, I hardly mind being reduced to a child-like state of wonder and awe. Such things and their effect on me is a rather humbling prospect- they allow me to remember how small I really am, and how vast, beautiful, and mysterious creation is. They quiet my soul, force me to inhale, to slow my walking…and marvel.

These things aren’t unbiblical. As Isaiah 1:18 says, “…Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow…” The Psalms are similarly full of poetry and verse extolling the beauty of nature, literally commanding us to strike our chords in time to the beat of thunderclouds, the rush of rivers, and the blowing of the wind. You get the sense that the Psalmist composed those verses in a similar state of awe; he was baffled, perplexed, and mystified by what he was witnessing in nature. In the Song of Solomon, the appreciation of physical beauty is overtly stated over and over…it is literally composed for the point of exposing that which is beautiful.

All these things are beautiful. Truly. And yet we say that creation, that this world, that our bodies, that all that surrounds us is fallen, is broken, and is therefore not worth finding any sort of worth in.

Are we so sure?

A man by the name of Athanasius would most likely disagree. He was a bishop who lived during the 4th Century, a champion of the faith who fought tooth-and-nail against the heresies of Arius, a man whose misunderstanding of the nature of Christ would rock the church and force our ancestors into formulating the creeds that form the early statements of Christian doctrine. Athanasius believed that when Jesus became incarnate, He was clothed in flesh that we might be clothed with incorruption; He died in order to meet the end of death. When this took place, all of creation was given new life, and the process of redemption started and completed. The world was still fallen….but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ made it beautiful, it made it new…and gave it all, gave us all, a chance to be what we were always meant to be.

Thus, all of creation was permeated by Jesus’ love. Our bodies were made like His, our souls given the chance to be united with the Triune God, and creation itself was brought back from the brink of destruction. When Athanasius thought of being “only human,” he saw it as a blessing; it was us being made in the image of God, in the image of that which is perfect. Thus, to him, humans had worth because of our nature- because we were given the chance to take upon the nature of Jesus Christ Himself. All creation has been irrevocably united with Love.

I think that I often feel like I’m falling in love when I see the snowfall because the snowfall reflects the perfect Love that was shown for me. I think that the beauty of creation, of music, of nature, of human love, is that, by their very existence, they whisper gently in our ears the identity of a Love that is utterly unfailing, unending, and utterly, blessedly beautiful. Creation echoes with redemption and love.

And that is why it is beautiful.

Human relationships are meant to do the same- to echo Christ’s love for us. When we choose to love one another not based on our potential, our gifts, or our perfections, but rather out of knowing who we are in Christ, and when we choose to accept and work with and bear with and love one another despite the ways we don’t measure up, we are incarnating Christ in that relationship. We are becoming a tangible example of how Christ loved us.

Music is beautiful because it shows elements of God that are mysterious, yet beautiful. Haunting, yet comforting. Foreign, yet blessedly familiar. Structured, yet as free as the flow of the ocean’s waves upon the shore. In music, we find a release, a breaking of tension that can unlock a place of peace for our souls. We can find a way to express emotions that words simply cannot personify. In music, we find a way to be ourselves, and to belong. In this, we are given even greater hints at the wonders of God. In Him, we can truly belong. In Him, all of our unruly emotions can be captured and made sense of. In Him, we find the most profound sense of peace.

The majesty of mountains cannot hope to compare with the glory of the One who can displace them with a flick of His thoughts. The ocean is power, and yet could be emptied by a word from His lips. The forests and plains personify life and rebirth- and yet, God is the only one who is capable of birthing or rebirthing anything. Snowfall can temporarily clothe the world in newness; God’s garment of unblemished purity is everlasting. In all things, He is more. He is bigger, stronger, and more effective. He is utterly ultimate.

All the things in this world that we find beautiful are, at their core, merely and simply echoes. They have so much worth…but only as they direct us to the One, True Source of beauty and life.

All things are echoes.

May we, as humans who have been clothed with incorruption, who have been given a second chance to have a million second chances, who have been given the gift of being made in the image of God…

may everything we do, big or small, be echoes of the beauty, majesty, power, and Love that is the sole providence of the one true God.

Certain things make me feel like I’m falling in love.

Certain things makes me know that I am loved.

Certain things makes me know that I was made to echo love.

May our lives be echoes.

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