ISSUES OF FAITH: Faith in the beauty of spring

“WOW! ISN’T THAT just beautiful?” This is what I find myself saying this time of year when I see the beauty of spring here on the Peninsula.

Daffodil bunches out in the middle of a field (who planted those anyway?); cherry trees maxed out in bloom; maybe a fresh dusting of snow on Klahhane Ridge or that special chartreuse of new leaves on our big leaf maples … they all evoke some sort of a “wow” for me.

How about you?

I’m reading a book by Marilynne Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author best known for her fiction but a significant theologian in her own right.

The book is a thoughtful 230 pages of essays that “probe beautifully into the mind and heart of God,” as one reviewer comments.

Robinson writes in “Reading Genesis” that at a deep level, Genesis shares a sense of God, who for God’s own “unfathomable reasons, loves humanity and all creation.”

This central understanding of God is radically different from how other ancients in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean religions perceived their gods, she says. Those gods had little regard for humanity or anything else except their own passions and hierarchy. Greek gods’ caprice, as an example, are myths of legend. Ask Zeus if he cared a whit about meeting human needs!

To Robinson, this clear difference between the God of Abraham and the gods of other ancients is expressed in Genesis if read rightly. Quoting, “This world is suited to human enjoyment — ‘out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight’ — in anticipation of human pleasure, which the Lord presumably shares. This is an extremely elegant detail. The beauty of the trees is noted before the fact that they yield food. It is a rich goodness that the Lord intended and created for our experience.”

From this, she continues that God gave us the gifts of sight and ability to perceive that beauty.

Since we are created in the image of God, she writes that God loves beautiful things, too, and wants to share this beauty with us. In this sense, we were created to be God’s companions.

Spring beauty is a reminder of God’s love for us. My Lutheran Christian tradition emphasizes the “grace of God,” God’s free unwarranted forgiving accepting love.

I think spring beauty is a visual grace given freely, too … no strings attached.

Next time you see a rhody or rose in bloom, feel free to let loose a “WOW” of your own.

Listen carefully and you might hear a response from God, “I know. I made them beautiful for both of us to enjoy.”

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Don Corson is an Ordained Deacon in the Lutheran Church (ELCA) and the winemaker for a local winery. He is also the minister for Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Forks. His email is ccwinemaker@gmail.com.

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