Composition Posted: 1,132 words
There are many days when I don’t breathe as hard as I ever can breathe. There are days when my head doesn’t poke up above the clouds, when I don’t walk like a giant over all the earth, and see the tapestry, the picture being completed and woven. There are many days when life is more like melted ice cream. But the story is there, and the picture is waiting to be grasped. The Creator has placed a story here to be found, and the threads run together into the painting of the entire world. And we are painters in real life, painting our own piece of the tapestry with a tiny brush (excuse my mixed metaphors). This is the world we have been created for.
“The fact is that we are painters in real life, and the important thing is to breathe as hard as ever we can breathe.”—Vincent Van Gogh
It is our call to live and to live well: to paint, and breathe as hard as we ever can breathe. But a blind man cannot paint (my apologies to the half-dozen blind artists that Wikipedia lists). We have been called to paint well, and breathe with all of our might. But where shall we take our picture from?
“…I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame…. It was less seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance…. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. … The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.”—Annie Dillard
Welcome to seeing, to the world: shining and bright, covered in millions upon billions of created things, grasses and forests and animals and cliffs and canyons, rivers and valleys, and there is a sunset happening every instant on this planet. There are glimpses hidden everywhere. A mountain range is not just a mountain range, and the weight of creation rests behind a cedar tree. Everything can be seen, if by seen you mean a scientific understanding that there is an object present, that reflects light, has mass, and is living. It is much harder to truly understand something, to look at something and be overwhelmed by the wonder of it all.
“I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.”—Clyde Kilby
Truly it is a divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic existence. We exist. Stop and think about how amazing that is. We are fully formed, with bodies that work and a million moving parts, besides. Every step we take is a miracle of movement and muscle and coordination. We can fall in love; we can delight in the miracle of lips touching softly; we can look into someone else’s eyes and understand what they are feeling. That we can feel at all! All this would be a miracle, and yet God has multiplied it seven billion times over. This planet is teeming with life, it overflows, and having seen, we will spend the power for our entire lives.
Do you see it? Do you care?
This world is a stage and we are at the same time building blocks and finished art, actors and audience. And God, the playwright, smiles at us, saying, “Go, explore.” The stage is big enough to spend a lifetime in. Every piece is put together for his story, for his perfect ending. Every blue whale in the Atlantic Ocean exists for that reason; every flake of snow in the Russian taiga fell for this purpose. There is extravagance in the world: there is more to see than we can ever see.
Come, see, and be filled up. You are invited Be overflowed. Paint furiously with your brush because you will never capture everything, and that is a good thing. Come with me: I am an adventurer, living my life to the fullest. There’s an awful lot of the tapestry waiting to be explored: will you join me on this wild journey? There is a tapestry be explored, essence to be discovered, wanderlust to be sated and home to be found. May you see, and love the Creator who has created you, knit you together, and given you eyes to see. May you bless his creation by using those eyes. Drink in, and see. Live hard, to the dregs, pass out jewels in the marketplace. Dance on mountaintops.
“This is my body, I think, may it be broken for you [his daughter]. And for my beloved in the kitchen with her blond hair bound into a fountain on her head as she slides calzones onto a hot stone in the oven, and for those future men and women making each other laugh and throwing pencils in the dining room, and for their children, and their children, and for children I will never know. May I live hard. To the dregs. May my living be grace to those behind me.”—N.D. Wilson
The world is bigger than I could ever explore. But I am wandering, keeping my journal as a legacy. May my living be grace to those behind me. May I live for my wife and kids. May I point them to what matters in life. This is why I am here. I am a seer. These are the things I have discovered. Come, discover with me. The world is bigger than both of us could ever explore. But maybe together we can touch a little bit more.
Come with me. Let’s go see what we can find.
As always, I am thankful for sharpeners: diamonds in the box around me that tumble along in the world and refine my edges. People like Alisha and Elizabeth, my friends who not only are closely tied to this online journal, but set out on paths of their own that I follow. And on another level, authors like Annie Dillard, N.D. Wilson, and John Eldredge — people who can see better than I, pointing me to new seeings that I’ve not seen before. Thank you.
(Cover image is by Rebekah Hange).