Every time I come up north to the Eastern Washington wilderness, there are new things to see. Always new things. “This creation,” as Eugene Peterson puts it, “is so complex, so intricate, so profuse with life and form and color and scent!” But I also become more and more aware of how unaware I am. Again, Peterson captures this with words: “And I walk through it deaf and dumb and blind, groping my way, stupidly absorbed in putting one foot in front of the other, seeing a mere fraction of what is there.”
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But one late afternoon, I did capture this stunning rainbow. It stood across the river in all of its glory, saying to anyone who would stop, “Take me in. This is God showing off His glory. ” As the psalmist notes, “The heavens declare…the skies proclaim…day after day they pour forth speech” (19:1-2). Such moments have to be seized and treasured and listened to, for rainbows come in a timely manner and wait for no one. McManus notes that one’s divine moment is like this. Don’t blink, or you will miss it.
Spring in this part of the world can be a dramatic mix of sun and rain, warmth and cold, all coming at you in the span of seconds. And when they collide, something beautiful is created—a rainbow. It seems to be a metaphor of sort. I think of Arthur, a young man in our church that I pray for each day. He is in the grip of cancer, and he fights—but he does it with grace and a most amazing yielding to the will of God. Suffering and grace seem to intersect—and together something beautiful emerges. Preparing to retire soon from pastoral ministry, there is both deep sadness and an anticipation of a new chapter. Sadness and joy collide—making their own splendor.
If we are bored with life, it has little to do with creation or Word or circumstances. It’s familiarity that can dull perceptions. It’s hurry that scatters our attention. It is chaining ourselves to our ipads and iphones, walking with necks bent and eyes closed to what is (and who is) around us. It is ignoring what can happen when things converge. As Peterson notes in his Reversed Thunder, it is selfishness that restricts our range.
Getting away—for all of us—has a way of bringing us back to our senses.