I remember the first time I noticed, I mean really noticed, the interaction between light and water. I was sitting in the grass in a wide open area having a scheduled quiet time at a church retreat. For the life of me I couldn’t concentrate on the bible or the things they’d given us to reflect upon. Instead I looked around or stared at the ground in contemplation and free thought mode.
Suddenly a burst of color caught my eye and I honed in on a blade of grass upon which a drop of water rested. The rich green and the perfectly straight edge amazed me. I thought of a man made level that is used in construction to make sure they are building perfectly straight, level boards and surfaces. God was the first to create such a perfect thing, yet it is something we hardly notice in the midst of that which we walk upon without a thought.
As I continued to observe the dew on the grass I moved ever so slightly from side to side, marveling at the miracle of subtly changing colors of the spectrum within that tiny liquid circle. I’ll never forget the sense of wonder encapsulated in that simple moment, the stunning realization of beauty so common and yet so rare, the significance of something so small and seemingly insignificant. It reminded me that whole worlds can exist in a moment even as countless moments comprise the whole world. It brings to mind now a wonderful quote I often think of in times of quiet observation:
God dwells in the details. – Mies van der Rohe
Today is a day where the small and grandiose bounce around together in my soul, polar opposites dancing within, waltzing out of reach and eluding my grasp. I cannot completely define what it is, but it has to do with significance and insignificance, time and eternity, the measure of a moment, the fleeting nature of time. Time is but a dew drop in the continuum of eternity, yet within it is a marvelous array of colors blending one into another. The earth exists within eternity as a small drop of water, and even smaller, our individual world and the length and breadth of our own lives. How small, how fast, these lives of ours. Before we know it we are grown with children and careers, and in the blink of an eye or a shifting of our body we see that life has changed from color to color, season to season, and our children are the ones with children and careers.
What is the meaning of all this smallness and profoundness heaped together in something so fleeting yet ever continuing as time? Do we get it? Do we truly see the significance within the seemingly insignificant? We hardly have appropriate levels or scales upon which to weigh the measure of a moment, a life, or a lifetime. Our thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, dreams and ambitions and efforts … all seemingly small, yet at times enormous, deep, and far-reaching.
Maybe there really is nothing which is insignificant. Maybe “insignificant” should not even be a word. Everything matters. The matter within the simple blade of grass and the matter comprising a drop of water and the matter of light pouring from the sun in a beam of glory (as if to say “This matters! Yes, this small thing is simply and profoundly beautiful and alive and significant!”) all come together to enlighten us on our complex journeys.
Perhaps this realization that everything matters, that all things are significant and have purpose and value, is both a precursor to love and a component of love. Love does not see anything as insignificant, for love sees the “whole” as well as the “part”. Love sees nothing, save evil, as ugly. Love in fact creates beauty out of the unbeautiful. It transforms evil into good, reversing the letters to make the opposite of “evil”, which is “live”.
I guess what I wish is for each of us to really see as much as we are able. To walk with God and to sit with him, to listen to his observations of the world around. How marvelous all of life would seem if we would take time to sit with Jesus and ponder the glory and significance of the “insignificant” things laid out before us in our daily lives. To cherish, as he does, all things that are made and to gaze at everything and everyone is such a way as to see the wonder and the beauty and the incredible meaning and value of life.
Life is a splendid gift – there is nothing small about it. – Florence Nightingale