Monday, November 22, 2010

"What, me worry?"

I was at my friend Gayle's house out in the country a few weeks ago when the weather was still warm. She does these incredible therapeutic massages and I'd taken a new friend out to experience her magic.

Gayle's husband Jimmy has made an oasis of flowers, paths, fountains and sitting areas out among the hills and scrub oaks and I decided to read a book and bask in the warmth of the sun while Patricia was getting her massage.

It was an absolutely perfect day by Oklahoma standards. Blue skies, mild temperature, no humidity and just the slightest breeze.

I wandered around for several minutes trying to decide which of the many spots would be the most aesthetically pleasing and finally picked a place just off the back deck where a symphony of flowers surrounded me and a tiny fountain gurgled in a cobalt blue container.

For the longest time I just basked in the warmth of the sun and marveled at all the different variety and colors of the plants and flowers that surrounded me. These are the things that always make me marvel at God's infinite creativity and the incredible beauty and complexity of the world we live in.

I finally decided to read my book, but within a few short minutes I became aware of a very strange sort of munching sound. It was faint but audible and one of the frustrating things about my ADD is that I can't filter out sounds like most people can. I hear everything.

So I started looking around to see what on earth was making this funny noise. And then I saw it. Just a few feet from me on the large, bright green leaf of a banana tree was a grasshopper munching away!

I was absolutely mesmerized for reasons I can't possibly explain. But I sat there for at least 30 minutes and listened to that grasshopper until it had chewed a golf ball sized hole in the leaf.

I was stunned by its detailed and vibrant markings. On both sides of its body were long yellow triangles outlined in black which created a vivid contrast on its bright green body. I could see its tiny, beedy eyes and the spurs on its legs.

I marveled as I thought about how beautiful it was. As I considered that those teeny, tiny eyes could actually see and that it had a tiny digestive system that would process the leaf it was eating into everything it needed to sustain its life.

Then I glanced down and to my left and saw a dozen more, just as elaborately dressed, sunning themselves on a rock. Apparently they had already eaten!

All I could think about was the goodness of God and His faithful provision. It made me think of Jesus' wise discourse in the Sermon on the Mount where He says in Matthew 6:25-29, which I feel compelled to quote in its entirety:

"For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body as to what you should put on. Is not life more than food and the body than clothing?

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

"And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?

"And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these."

I kept thinking about that verse as I was looking at how beautifully God had "clothed" that silly grasshopper, and how He had given it an instinct to know exactly what to eat and how much. (Side note: Have you ever noticed you never see fat insects, fish or animals? Interesting isn't it, that only we humans overindulge!)

I really can't explain why this little creature intrigued me so much! Maybe it was because it made me realize the truth of the verses I just quoted.

If God takes care of a few grasshoppers in Manford, Oklahoma, and makes sure they eat and sun and hang out with other grasshoppers, what could I, as one among the crowning glory of His creation, created in His own image and likeness, possibly have to worry about?

The answer seems ridiculously obvious.

Nothing, nada, null.

Zippo, zilch, zero.

Not one thing.

Not one.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is God's Last Name Fibonacci?

I was talking with my friend Nancy last night and her friend Becky at an open house for a mutual friend who is starting a fab new couture coat business.

Turns out Becky is a pretty impressive woman and an interior designer to boot. I told her it's what I had really wanted to study when I finally went to college, but I had just come from three years with Youth With A Mission and knew I had a calling to be a missionary to countries behind the Iron Curtain. Russia, specifically.

My plan was to get my degree (Though I had never done well in school, my sweet father still had delusions of grandeur that I would somehow magically transform into a student--some dreams die hard.) and go back to the mission field.

To that end, I decided to get a degree in International Relations. I lasted one entire, agonizing semester until I realized that particular degree track required a bunch of boring political science classes. So I quickly scrapped that plan and decided to pursue a degree in French. Turns out that even though I had beautiful pronunciation, thanks to those early years in parochial school, I had no real aptitude for learning a foreign language.

So once again I changed my major to something I could use on the mission field. I decided to focus on philosophy and religion.

Deep sigh.

Let's just say it wasn't exactly the seminary experience I had envisioned. The philosophy classes were clinics on Humanism and the religion classes were apparently taught by the professors who had graduated with a degree in Philosophy.

The only thing I remember from it all is how difficult--nigh, almost impossible--it is to have a conversation without ever once using the word "I".

So reluctantly, and filled with the frivolousness of my choice, I moved on to my first love. Beauty, design, aesthetics.

If I'd had the courage to truly listen to my heart, I would have gleefully enrolled in the Interior Design program.

But I still had the notion I was going to go back to the mission field, and I just couldn't imagine Russians who had to stand in line for three hours for a bag of potatoes calling me to discuss window treatments and wall colors that worked in all kinds of lighting.

So I decided to get a degree in Graphic Art instead. I figured I could somehow use that skill set

And then I got pregnant.

So I got married. Because it seemed like doing the "right" thing after doing the wrong thing would somehow balance things out.

I'm sure God was impressed, but that will have to be an entirely different blog entry.

After Jordan was born I quit school altogether because it was too hard to juggle both our school schedules with the demands of a nursing baby and Jay's degree, since he would be supporting the family, seemed more important.

You are probably wondering what all of this has to do with my conversation with Nancy and Becky, so I'll tell you.

Turns out Becky had also had doubts about how relevant it was to decorate people's homes or offices. Surely there were more noble and important things she should be doing. Right?
But I don't think that way any more, and I'll tell you why.

Because of fibonacci.

Fibonacci, named after Leonardo Fibonacci, is the discovery of the design, order, beauty and symmetry in all of nature.

Fibonacci is the way God, the inventor of design, order, beauty and symmetry designed everything from honeycombs to pinecones to artichokes to fern leaves to sunflowers to the human body's cells to shells (The Nautilus being a famous case in point) to the spiral arms of certain galaxies to, well, you name it.

It's mathematical, it's precise and above all, it's beautiful. God created a beautiful universe full of beautiful things that reflect His infinite creativity, His love of beauty, His incredible sense of design, light, proportion and arrangement. Which makes Him the author and originator of interior design!

"The Fibonacci Sequence is most likely the most influential series of numbers in the world. This mathematical sequence (each being the sum of the two numbers before it) was discovered by Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa in the early 13th century. In his Book of Calculations, he outlined the 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, etc., as the 'golden' numbers found in geometry, art, anatomy, music, biology, botany and conchology."

So my thinking, as I was trying to share with Nancy and Becky, is that if God delights in beauty and aesthetics, and if we are created in the image of God, how much pleasure must He get out of us using the gifts and talents He has given us and reflect His nature in everything we touch?After all, even with the chaos and destruction that resulted from the fall of mankind we still live on a beautiful earth.

Isn't that something? That even with the subsequent judgment and consequences upon the earth we can still find beauty almost everywhere we look?

To be sure, heaven will be a beautiful place. The restored earth will once again be as beautiful and perfect a reflection of its Creator as was originally intended.

So why wouldn't God want us to try to create and experience as much beauty as we possibly can? Personally, so long as these things don't become idols, I think He delights in every single reflection of His multi-faceted Self we emulate.

It's very gratifying to know I can celebrate Him by simply painting my walls a beautiful color, or by spending time in a room that gives me pleasure, much as the universe gives God pleasure.
I am giving myself permission to let God's expressions flow through me in any and every way they can.

Because I want to reflect Him.

And He is beautiful.