“Creation sometimes screams a confusing message—fear, pain, grief. Fire burns, rivers flood, winds go hurricane, the earth shudders so hard it levels cities. But you must remember—this was not so in Eden. Mankind fell, surrendering this earth to the evil one. St Paul says that creation groans for the day of its restoration (see Rom. 8:18–22), making it clear that everything is not as it was meant to be. People come to terrible conclusions when they assume this world is exactly as God intended. (An assumption that has wrought havoc in the sciences.) The earth is broken.
Which only makes the beauty that does flow so generously that much more astounding. And reassuring.”
The earth, and all its inhabitants, are broken. Just look around you, in your own nuclear family, certainly no farther than your extended family.
On the surface, everything can look just fine. But as I recall learning at my Confirmation party, we have “family” secrets. Uncle George was always the life of the party, and not so coincidentally an amateur vintner. He made several hundred gallons of home-made wine every year for as long as I knew him. Several gallons were given as gifts to close friends and family, the rest was cached around his large and well landscaped property. You might walk into his immaculately organized workshop, and there on the shelf was a large, dark glass bottle with a masking tape label that read “paint thinner“. Or if you knew where else to look, a gallon jug would be hidden in the field under the edge of a hay pile. Here was the reason he was so jolly, and care free. And it tasted very much like paint thinner…
Of course, our stories can also be very painful, we too shudder and groan along with the whole creation. But in our own context, there are bright spots of beauty which speak to us on some level, reassuring us that underneath the apocalyptic exterior, this mountain of brokenness we call home, there is a seed. The beauty which we see now has been reduced, diminished, broken. It is a mere vestige of what once was. Use your imagination, and dream of what a restored and liberated Creation would look like, stretching as far as your eyes could see. The Cascades and Tetons will be mere punctuation marks in the restoration that will descend upon this earth. Only then will the groaning of the sons of men, of all creation, cease. Eden will have been set free, the world will finally be as God originally intended.
When I see something beautiful, stunning, I now try to stop and think of what this tells me of the world to come. The beauty we see now is broken, yet it is a seed of hope.
7 So I fed the flock of slaughter, verily the poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.
8 And I cut off the three shepherds in one month; for my soul was weary of them, and their soul also loathed me.
9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let them which are left eat every one the flesh of another.
10 And I took my staff Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the peoples.
11 And it was broken in that day: and thus the poor of the flock that gave heed unto me knew that it was the word of the LORD.
12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my hire; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver.
13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter, the goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them unto the potter, in the house of the LORD.
14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.