I have been a bit like a yoyo this week. The weight of this past month has been catching up to me. It’s been a time of walking with friends and family who are battling cancer, enduring medical procedures, and grieving the loss of parents and loved ones. We will be going to a Memorial Service later this week for a dear friend. I have felt the weight of it hit me in a deeper way this week. After a few days I noticed something. I kept finding myself in front of the window by our kitchen sink. This week, more than some, the sun has been bright and dazzling. We received a fresh snowfall followed by an arctic blast of freezing temperatures, yet, the sun kept shining; so much so, that it was hard not to notice it. Upon reflection, I realized I just kept drifting to my sunny window, like a yoyo string winding back up. Life would bring me out here and there and then launch me back to the window. I know it sounds a little odd or perhaps unimportant at first glance but there is something more to it. That time by the window has been saving me.
We have all experienced it. You can stand on the shore of the ocean or by a beautiful tree lined lake or at the base of a mountain or top of a cliff overlooking a view as far as the eye can see and you find yourself just standing there, wanting to take it all in. What is it that makes it so mesmerizing?
Philosophers have described this feeling as “overwhelming meaningfulness”.1 When you’re in the presence of something beautiful, whether it’s a sunny kitchen window or walking along the ocean, the beauty connects you with something bigger than yourself, something beyond you and any power that may be trying to get ahold of you like conflict, confusion, hardships, cancer or grief. In that moment, in the midst of beauty, you know life means something. You have a sense of hope and possibility. Beauty heals us, renews us and satisfies our soul.
I am reminded of Moses. At one point, HIs situation was so hard and infuriating that he broke the 10 Commandments. He went to God and confessed the great sins of the people. He asked God to remain with them. In boldness, Moses even asked God to show him His glory. But of course it is not possible for us, in our human, sinful nature to be in the presence of God in all his majesty and glory. So the Lord told Moses, “I will make all my goodness pass before you.”2 Moses stood in a cleft of a rock and God passed by him in such a way that Moses only saw God’s back; God’s goodness passed before him and Moses experienced the glory of God.
I think that is what we receive in those moments of beauty — the goodness of the Lord passing before us. The psalms tell us that the glory of the Lord is all around us,“The heavens declare the glory of God. Day by day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge.”3 The goodness is here and if we listen we will be drawn to it — at the kitchen window, as our hand is held by a loved one, in a kind, undeserved note, in the comfort of a wonderful memory that washes over us like a cool mist on a warm day and more.
Today as I stand in front of my window, the sun cannot be seen. Yet beneath the cold and the expanse of white snow before me, there is life preparing to burst forth. In the meantime, we can look for something good. The Lord is passing by us.
1. Tim Keller used this phrase.
2. see Exodus 33:19
3. Psalm 19:1-2