These are two of my children. Bree, in the top frame, is my youngest. She is 9. Rachel, below, is my oldest and she is officially an adult now. She turned 18 in July. We recently took a trip to the beach and it was my youngest that caught my attention in the ocean one day as we were soaking ourselves in the salt water.
With her face eagerly pointed upward toward the sun, Bree sat with her elbows propped up over a big, green inter-tube, the rest of her body engulfed by the over-sized inflatable, feet dangling in the deep. I was standing in the waves about 10 feet from her. She began to spin swiftly over and over. She looked at me quizzically and seemed to allow a thought to roll off of her tongue out loud, as if trying out the idea for size. "It would be funny if I was making those waves by spinning really fast." I replied, "Yes, that would be amazing." She looked out into the horizon and the look on her face suggested that she was pondering the idea and if it was a plausible one.
She must have decided that it was because the look of inquisitiveness turned into determination and she began to double her efforts at spinning in the sea. I decided to play along and respond to every wave that made its way toward us. I told her how impressive the waves had become in such a short time. That just spurned on more determination and hard work.
It struck me as we were frolicking in those waves that we are that way toward God sometimes. We accept the weight of the world and we think it is up to us, that kingdoms rise and fall according to how we live the day or do not live the day. If we just keep spinning without relenting, we can create something that is significant and powerful. If we see some sort of seemingly related results from our efforts, it is enough to propel us on to harder and better work.
We want so much to be part of something bigger, to possess and have significance in the beauty we see around us. There is a pang, a sharp injury when beauty doesn't even nod in our direction. In the film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Sean Penn's character reminds us that beauty doesn't need attention. In the movie, he is seeking out a snow leopard to photograph and he calls it a "ghost cat" because of its evasiveness. It does not need to be recognized for its beauty. It simply exists and takes pleasure in existing and is unaware that it has the power to evoke something deeply haunting in another. That seems to me, to be as close to the garden of Eden as we could get; being unaware of our own nakedness, existing and being and taking pleasure in the existing and being without the desire for possession. There has to be a knowledge that there IS something much bigger AND that we have a gracious chance to be a part of that something bigger, even if our part is as small as spinning in the ocean. We can't add to the intrinsically beautiful, but we CAN immerse ourselves in it and wear it on our bodies like salt and sand.