“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.” // C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
I live in a run-of-the-mill apartment complex, but a lucky roll of the dice put me in a unit set back in a wild tangle of trees, with big bedroom windows looking out on it all.
It was glorious in summer and dreamy in fall. I thought it would get ugly when winter blew in, but it didn’t. The limbs are tall and grey, and they arch up to the sky and they make my heart thud.
This has always been, to me, the strongest sign of a creator-God — not a proof, but a reason to search for proof. I think about the things humans make, which are sometimes beautiful, and then I think about the world, the natural world. Is it really possible that the thing created by accident is the thing with the most grace?
Men make mountains too. I see them every day on my walks in and out of the office, buildings pounding up into the sky, sparkling windows, stripes of color. They’re beautiful, they make my heart soar. But the dimmest hint of leaves changing on the worn-down Appalachian mountains puts them to shame. Put the two things up next to each other. Think about nature, about tree sap, about the smell of dirt. The things humans make cannot compete.
But there’s the problem, there’s the rub. Here’s the next part of that C.S. Lewis quote:
“For you must not think that I am putting forward any heathen fancy of being absorbed into Nature. Nature is mortal; we shall outlive her. When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive. Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol Scripture invites me to use. We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendour which she fitfully reflects.”
You have to draw the line, you have to realize that nature isn’t it. Those arching trees aren’t it. The smell of dirt’s not it.
You have to draw the line between Creator and created.
And how wonderful to think that all of this — every beautiful thing — is just a copy of a copy of a copy, just a breath of what we’ll see in the future.
“And there, in beyond Nature, we shall eat of the tree of life.”