“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, October 23, 2009

Be Alive to Reality: Even Ordinary Things Are Extraordinary

…This summer I visited Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. It was incredible. Not only was it majestic, truly great, in sheer size and power (being surrounded by the falls in a 3D environment is much more amazing than the pictures), but there are so many little details to notice about the falls – the way the water cascades down, the little streams and rivulets of water that fall hundreds of feet side by side with the larger sections of thundering water, the way the water from a narrow section of falls sprays in all directions when it hits a rock or the water below, the little droplets of water that are blown up to the tops of the cliffs on the other side, the large waterfalls at the top and bottom of the 300-foot drop that look tiny compared to the real falls, the sunlight hitting a particular tree on a cliff and lighting it up, the vertical path traced by any particular jet of water, etc. I stood there and just observed, taking it in.

It’s not as difficult to see the wonder and majesty in something like Victoria Falls. We’re wired to gasp at a thing that great and that beautiful. But we’re no less capable of standing in awe of everything in nature, and not only nature, but even the more mundane and dull inventions of man. Even a toaster demands our awe! It’s funny, but true. The ordinary is not “just” what it is – in fact, it’s not ordinary. To call something ordinary is to assume a standard of expectation, but why should one make such an assumption? Nothing is ordinary. Rather, everything is extraordinary simply because it exists. Even if a thing had no other property than existence, it would still be a glorious wonder. But of course all things are so much more than that – they are particular in many ways, and therefore beautiful. Each rock an untold treasure, each leaf a priceless piece of art, each atom of our world a gem of heaven, even each integer – a divine masterpiece.

So again, take nothing for granted, not even a toaster (it is a miracle that the universe should produce such a thing more than it is that man should invent it), not even existence, for why should there be a reality at all?!* If we can learn to be alive to reality, to take no thing’s existence for granted but rather see the beauty and the miracle of being in all things, to look at trees and cars and people with awe and wonder simply because they are, then perhaps we will see the need for a firm foundation to existence. This world is amazing, and the more we realize that, the more we will see the need for an explanation of its miraculous existence. It is this issue that I explore in my posts on “The Foundation of Existence.”

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