By Jean Andrianoff —
At this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, wild rhododendrons are blooming in the woods. As we drive along the highway, I find myself watchfully scanning the evergreen forests for glimpses of the soft pink of rhody blossoms. When I see clusters of pink, I feel so rewarded. Why do these fleeting glances of beauty hold such an attraction for me?
I believe it has to do with God’s purpose in creation. As the first chapter of Genesis tells us, He has created things that He perceives as good. And He has created us in His image to share that pleasure in the goodness and beauty of His creation.
In Psalm 27, the writer expresses his one desire of God: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4 (ESV).
The Psalmist wants to dwell eternally in God’s house “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.” Do we have any concept of the beauty that is God? While I suspect that God’s beauty is far beyond anything we have ever seen or can imagine, I believe that God gives us glimpses of that beauty through His created world. Little gives me deeper pleasure than to spend time enjoying God’s creation in a natural setting. That beauty resonates with me, filling me with a sense of joy and calm. Imagine feeling an even deeper sense of such perceptions through eternity!
The Japanese have a practice called “forest bathing”—time spent simply being in a natural environment, not necessarily hiking or jogging or even sketching or journaling, but simply being. Some studies have found that not only does such a practice improve one’s mood, it can have health benefits as well. Could this be because creation gives us a deeper connection with the Creator? He has made us to love and appreciate the beauty of His creation and through it, to glimpse His beauty and to enjoy His goodness.
If I’m in a car traveling along the highway, I catch only glimpses of the nearly hidden beauty of blooming rhododendrons. If I park the car and walk into the forest, I can enjoy their loveliness more fully. And through that beauty, in turn, I catch a glimpse of the Creator’s beauty that I hope to adore more completely throughout Eternity.