Captivated by Creation

 

cactus wren with beak full
Cactus wren, Arizona

I love the high desert where we live: comical cactus wrens dart through the underbrush, their beaks crammed with grass and weeds for their nests; soaring night skies glitter with stars; impossibly fragile flowers adorn our desert plants with astounding color. Even the harvester ants—that arrived in countless numbers and with interminable energy to pillage my newly planted lawn and carry off every last seed—are evidence of a brilliant creator.

 

Imagine being a witness to creation! This is what I imagine…

Long ago and far away, before the first tadpole wiggled in a ditch or the first bright green blade of grass pierced the earth’s crust, there was nothing at all, anywhere. Time had not begun.Light lay locked away in the treasure vaults of God’s mind.

Only God existed somewhere, somehow.

Some time, God began a journey, an amazing journey. He decided to take a walkabout through the outback of nothingness. When God began to wade through the void, in his wake swirled glittering galaxies, spinning solar systems, and worlds without number. The stars shone with the white-hot fire of new birth, but their brilliance was only a residue of God’s presence. His glory was so vast that his every movement sent showers of stars streaming into a million orbits.

For centuries, millenniums, perhaps billions of years, God walked, leaving suns and moons in his footprints. If we had been observers of this fantastic journey, we never would have guessed that these marvels of the heavens were only the forerunners of God’s creative genius! There was a moment when our world was set into the infinite vastness of his heavens like a turquoise jewel on dark velvet. To this spot God focused his more intense attention.

Great mountains heaved themselves up from lifeless seas and belched lava and smoke into the pristine air. This small planet seemed to be in the throes of becoming something. Clearly it was being readied for some grand occasion. But what?

In God’s perfect timing, it was finally prepared. Rich soil covered the ground. Warm sunshine bathed the hills and valleys.

Suddenly life overflowed God’s hands in unbelievable profusion. Fragile tendrils of plant life lifted themselves from the soil and hung quivering in the golden light. Great ferns spread out their green sails. Luscious fruit hung heavy on a thousand branches. Orchids set the treetops ablaze with purple and white fire. An aromatic fragrance filled the air, a smell of moisture, sweetness, and life.

redwood-forest- (2016_07_21 01_37_36 UTC)
Redwood forest in Northern California

Crystal rivers and lakes reflected the transparent azure of the sky. The oceans seethed with living organisms, and soon flashed with the sudden movements of silver-sided fish and carefree dolphins. Ladybugs whirred into view, heading for richly petaled flowering trees. Their tiny gossamer wings, beating a thousand times per minute, brought them in for flawless six-point landings as though they had practiced for weeks. When they alighted, their wispy sails folded away like little parachutes under bright red enameled wing covers. Chipmunks skittered across the meadows as though blown out of a chute. Gazelles bounded in great circles, celebrating grace and life. Tortoises appeared like living lumps along the shore. A beating of wings heralded the arrival of flocks of iridescent birds, resplendent parrots, and graceful flamingos, a moving rainbow of color. Spotted fawns stooped to eat in the mottled shade encircling lush pastures.

In the words of master poet James Weldon Johnson[1]:

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.

Then God sat down–
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;

Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.

Perhaps these words seem fanciful to you, lacking as they are in any scientific basis. Since people first arrived on the scene, some have had trouble believing God is behind our world and the universe. Today we worship science instead of God. Doesn’t scientific evidence that goes back billions of years cast doubt on the Creation Story? Not to me. I think it takes a far greater leap of faith to say it all happened from a Big Bang. A big explosion of what, exactly, and where did that whatever it was come from? And what  caused the Big Bang? How can an arbitrary explosion explain the phenomenal mathematics and science built into every single living creature? A Big Bang cannot explain the uniqueness of billions of people, each with unique fingerprints, voice prints, retina prints, and not to mention personalities. A Big Bang cannot explain intelligence, creativity, love, or loyalty. It was not happenstance that created birds that instinctively know how to build nests (every species a different type of nest, of course), or to migrate over eight thousand miles as does the arctic tern, using celestial cues from the sun and stars, the earth’s magnetic field, and mental maps.

I was reading in 1 Corinthians recently and reread this verse, “God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

Truth must be revealed. God can neither be proved nor disproved. Each of us must choose to believe. The psalmist wrote, “the heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship” (Psalm 19:1).

Every bird I see with its intricate feathering pattern and its ingenious design that allows flight; every plant I see with the ability to synthesize light into chlorophyll and produce fruit;

butterfly scales
Scales from the wing of a sunset moth from Madagascar. If you photograph these from the opposite side, they would be different colors.

every time I contemplate the fragile beauty of a brilliant butterfly whose magnificent colors are made up of microscopic scales; every time I contemplate nature, I thank God for his wisdom, vast intelligence, and pleasure in creating such a gorgeous world for us to live in.

George Bernard Shaw, that brilliant playwright and self-professed atheist, was once asked, “What if, when you die, you discover that you have been wrong and there really is a God?” He answered, “I will tell him that he gave us insufficient evidence.”

Some might respond by saying—or thinking—”brilliant retort.” No. It’s a tragic, smart alecky reply. To be so intelligent and yet be blind to spiritual truth is heartbreaking. You cannot discern God with human wisdom. But you can see him everywhere if your eyes and your heart are open.

 

 

[1] Excerpt from “The Creation” by James Weldon Johnson

The Most Beautiful Things

Peacock Feathers
Peacock feathers

Beauty overflows our world. From the lush, sun-dappled rain forests to the moon-swept deserts, the earth surrounds us with astonishing beauty. Magnificent animals, exotic birds, and, above all, people are everywhere. In this exquisite world  people create, and have created, magnificent things that inspire us.

What would you say are the most beautiful things? I was going to begin with “The Ten Most Beautiful Things.” But it was a ridiculous task. So I set up categories of things like buildings, animals, gardens, and, of course, people. You no doubt have different tastes and would choose differently. I hope you enjoy my collection.

As you look and wonder, worship God’s creations and marvel at the giftedness of architects, artists, and everyone who lifts a paintbrush, designs a robot, and creates a garden. Our ability to create is a God-given gift that provides a more beautiful world and deep satisfaction for those who create. Enjoy!

The Earth

You are here.  That fragile, impossibly beautiful and achingly vulnerable globe hanging all alone out there in the star speckled dark… that is home. That is Earth.

Earth from space
NASA image

 

earth sunrise

apollo11_earthview_1280
NASA image of earthrise from the moon

Animals

They leap across the savannahs,  glide through coral reefs, and wing through the trees.

 

indian-tiger-closeup
Bengal tiger

 

hqdefault copy
Mandarin duck
dclairesep12head
Horses are so beautiful! Perhaps Arabian?
box-jelly-e1419974540537
Jellyfish
leafy-sea-dragon-yellow
Sea dragon, a tiny seahorse that camouflages itself as seaweed
peacock
Peacock
Mandarin goby fish (be sure to double check)
Mandarin Goby fish
macaw
Catalina Macaw parrot, a hybrid between “Blue and Gold” and “Scarlet” Macaw

Flowers and gardens

Yep. Just five for now. I am showing remarkable restraint here.

Granada rose 2015
Granada hybrid tea rose
Pink Cattleya Orchid Flower Picture 91
Cattleya orchid
Stargazer lily
Stargazer lily
sunflower-94184_960_720
Sunflower. Note the incredible geometric detail
poinciana blossom
Poinciana blossom
keukenhof gardens 1
Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse, Netherlands
Versailles gardens
The gardens at Versailles, France

Buildings

People create such amazing, complex, and inspiring structures and decorate them in so many fantastic ways. These are some of my favorites.Chapelle_Palatine2

Chapelle Palatine, Palermo, Sicily. Incredible mosaic tile inlaid with gold leaf.

gold-inlaid mosaic in Chapelle_Palatine, Palermo, Sicily
Chapelle Palatine, Palermo, Sicily
Hearst Castle - Roman Indoor Pool
Roman pool, Hearst Mansion, San Simeon, California. Walls, ceiling, and floor are entirely covered with mosaic tile.
Glory window 2
Glory window in the Thanks-giving Square Chapel, Dallas Texas
light streaming through stained glass
I don’t know where this window is, but I love the way the light streams through the glass. I like the story of the little boy who explained to his sister that saints are the people the light shines through.
1280px-Palau_de_la_Música_Catalana,_the_Catalan_Concert_Hall
Palau de la Musica catalana concert hall, Barcelona, Spain (photo by Jiuguang Wang)

 

Palau_de_la_musica_catalana_-_Barcellona
Ceiling stained glass, Palau de la Musica catalana, Barcelona, Spain

 

Sagrada-Familia-stained-glass-windows-Barcelona-Spain-1-1620x1080
La Sagrada Familia Basilica by Antonio Gaudi, Barcelona, Spain. Read the story of this amazing cathedral, still under construction
taj mahal
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
then-there-are-the-simpler-beauties-like-the-aptly-named-ribbon-chapel-located-in-japan-it-opened-just-over-a-year-ago
Ribbon Chapel, Onomichi, Hiroshima, Japan. Hiroshi Nakamuru, architect.
Ribbon-Chapel-by-Hiroshi-Nakamura-NAP-Co-19
Ribbon chapel. Two spiral staircases provide the building’s support. There are no other walls.
Ribbon-Chapel-by-Hiroshi-Nakamura-NAP-Co-15
Ribbon Chapel
Neuschwanstein01 winter
Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany
Versailles Hall of mirrors wide
Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, France

Sculptures and works of art

16th-Avenue-Tiled-Steps-San-Francisco1
16th Ave. tiled steps, San Francisco, California
king-tut-golden-mask-original
King Tutankhamen’s funeral mask
peacock pebble mosaic sidewalk
peacock sidewalk
pieta by michelangelo
Pieta by Michelangelo

People

Young or old, the human face is the most expressive part of any creature in our world. Alike but so different, we are made in the image of God.

1436472717262

Elevated Baby (6-12 Months)Celeste_Sloman_Faces_Moscow_001elderly coupleJodi in sunglassesmother-teresa-smileo-GRANDMA-BETTY-facebook2015-09-13 17.22.47791372_8019657213164217_1058425834250947_548777410094119033_n13256371_10206739501067983_4615847793714102466_n13267806_10153787475782874_2100160693751106630_na35_00540529Amazing-Eyes-And-Cute-Child-Beautiful-Eyes-Imagebaby 2baby 3baby 4fish-story-still05IMG_0218japan_2013_rcerrotti-12jenni and Joacob westman 2016Kolette and AlexMawuna-Remarque-KOUTONIN_avatar

Regard-Khawar-Naqvirisa