Are You in Awe of the Aching Beauty of God’s Creation?

When was the last time you soaked in the aching beauty of God’s creation? Or let me ask you, how does the aching beauty of God’s creation move you? I hope it does. God’s creation could be the very heart monitor you need to check the condition of your spiritual life. The music of God’s creation is all around us and this past weekend, I had a deep soak in the visual artistry of God. A long drive through vineyards, past California oaks, and the Pacific Ocean along Santa Barbara tunes you into the frequency of God’s love like no other. If there is one thing that renews my spirit, it is the beauty of God’s creation. I have a sneaking suspicion that God’s creation does the same for you. Let me share a story. It may inspire you to go for a slow walk or long drive this coming weekend. Read on…

 AreYouinAweoftheAchingBeautyofGodsCreation  Are You in Awe of the Aching Beauty of Gods Creation?


Last weekend was my daughter’s Christmas concert at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Ellie is a freshmen in the architecture department…she also loves to sing. Since she really wanted some O’Connor family presence to receive the gift of her 60 person choir singing beautiful Christmas songs, my thirteen year old son, Aidan, and I took a quick road trip up the California coast to see her.

We left early Saturday morning amidst rainy skies and arrived after only four and a half hours of driving. The concert began with a fun, celebratory African hymn praising the wonder of the Christ Child. The next song, O Magnum Mysterium, stole the breath from my lungs. My first step into the hope and wonder of the Christmas season.

From Psalm 23 to Bach to O Holy Night to fun Dubstep acapella beats, Ellie’s Christmas concert was a perfect evening to focus my attention on the true meaning of Christmas. We only had one protocol break when Aidan gave his older sister a loud shout-out as she walked offstage, “EL-LIEEE!!!”

On the drive home the next day, there was a lingering echo in my heart from all the beautiful music the night before. As I took a deeper look at the dark clouds above me, a gradual unfolding of God’s creation began to awaken something deep inside of me.

Hillside after hillside of vineyards waiting for winter to drop their remaining red and yellow leaves.

Other vineyards were now a deep burnt rust against striking yellow poplars.

As I drove on, the cloudy skies filled with all shades of grey, white, and black.

Then, majestic orange and yellow sycamores…my favorite tree!

Green rows of produce on large farms with old red barns.

More vineyards, but this time, large olive-colored California oaks dotted among them.

Rolling hills. Farmland and sage covered mountains as far as I could see.

When I hit the coastline, the massive expanse of the Pacific filled with the heavy surge of a large winter swell.

Contrasted by the lacy white skirt of low-hanging clouds against the rock-studded mountains above me, a thought surfaced, “This is a cascade of wonder!”

I’m not embarrassed to say I was moved to tears. This generous slice of earth…a powerful reminder of God’s love, mercy and grace.

Music. Beauty. Wonder. Art. The aching beauty of God’s creation.

All reach deep into our hearts and souls to stir something very precious, something very hidden in us.

The aching beauty of God’s creation scratches the itch, that nagging urge for wholeness inside of us.

Like a Lover calling His Beloved, God is luring our hearts with the aching beauty of His creation.

Oh, if we’d only listen to the music of creation all around us.

In creation, we see His power, beauty, creativity, majesty and might. His love on display, ever-cascading, falling down upon us. Amazing wonders.

This aching beauty we sense. We feel. This groaning. This longing and hunger for wholeness. Redemption.

All aim towards hope.

For hope is the song of Christmas.

The birth of Christ, love’s first cry, drawing us nearer. Nearer. Nearer.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:22-25

Questions: How does the aching beauty of God’s creation move you? What is your favorite place to steal away to? The mountains? Desert? Country? Beach? What is the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever visited?

I’d love your thoughts and comments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, snarky or off-topic.

  • Joy

    I have always wondered why we cry when we are overwhelmed with God’s beauty. I know it well, and I know the exact places and times it has hit me. But why do we cry? Is it something unique to our fallen condition? Or is it just part of being human (fallen or not?) If the new heavens and the new earth will be perfect, and I will not struggle with my weak sinful condition, then will I cry there at all the beauty? Certainly there would be enough beauty to cry for a very long time? But what about the Scriptures that teach there are no tears in heaven? Its all very mysterious to me. Someone must have written on this long ago already, even though I am just now pondering it off and on. Any authors you know of who have worked on this?

    -Starving for beauty in a desert (sorry the Pacific Northwest spoiled me…)

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      Why do we cry when we are overwhelmed with God’s beauty? You ask a number of thoughtful questions Joy…many worth exploring. Certainly we know there will be exceeding joy in heaven and tears, like grief, can also be seen in the expression of joy. But no tears in heaven? I think that verse is specifically related to the pain and grief from death.

      I don’t know any authors that have tackled an in-depth look on the subject of tears in heaven and the differentiation between tears of joy, wonder, beauty and awe contrasted by the tears produced by pain…several books have been written about heaven by popular Christian authors, but I haven’t seen any adequately address the deeper complexities of human emotion, grief, etc. Maybe you might want to take this on?

  • Jeanette

    Thanks for that – can just about see the journey, and am totally with you… It’s all I do… I was soooo lucky to have a mother that would point out the purple or green in the autumn sky, or how the trees looked orange in the late summer sun, how the shallow water bend around a pebble and made it shine like a diamond… One just needs eyes to see – beyond the looking.

    When I paint, I aim to create a point of harmony and peace, a breathing space in our busy lives. As a landscape artist, I paint what catches my attention, either a place that takes my breath away, or the opposite – a place to catch my breath, and as to be expected, they often coincide. As a Christian I only reflect what was placed there by God to begin with. I believe and hope that with my work I give others a second chance to look closer and appreciate that which is out there for them to see, but passed by only too often. My work does not carry a Bible verse, it does not speak of Christ’s life, and yet I hope and pray that it does point to God the Creator.

    What is the most inspiring place? Any place – really, truly and honestly… beauty is in the beholder, and yes, the great vistas are awe inspiring, but so is a simple sparrow’s feather…

    I’ve attached one of my recent paintings, called ‘Come sit awhile’ – just a simple rock in a small stream touched by the morning sun – but just as gloriously reflecting Gods Creation and inviting to just ponder and reflect… hope you enjoy it… “Be still and know…”

    PS… Home at present is Paris Ontario, Canada…

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      How wonderful that you had a mother that taught you to see the beauty all around you in creation. As parents, we have the tremendous privilege and opportunity to help our children “see with new eyes.” For children who are gifted with artistic talents, there’s no telling what can happen when we water those seeds planted in their hearts. Thanks for sharing your beautiful painting Jeanette.

  • Annette

    As I said on FB, Yosemite moves me and stirs me. Every time we come around the corner and see the valley spread in front of us, I am overcome with awe and wonder. In Yosemite, I often wonder, “How can people see this and not believe in God?”. As I get older, I find myself noticing more when out on a hike, or just a walk around the neighborhood. A couple of other things that can stir me almost as deeply; when I watch the children’s pageant at church, when the sopranos soar in a beautiful hymn (goosebumps and tears).

    When Dennis was in madrigals in HS (yep, used to tear up at his concerts as well), they sang O Magnum Mysterium, BEAUTIFUL!

    Peace,

    Annette

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      I agree Annette, when we listen to O Magnum Mysterium, unbelief in God or belief in evolution makes no sense. It takes far less faith to believe in an intelligent Creator who uniquely designed a 100 individuals who sing beautiful songs in chorus than putting 100 monkeys in a room for a 100 million years in hopes that they will sing a tune together, let alone compose it a la Bach or Mozart. I am not anti-people who believe in evolution…just find the theory has a lot of holes in it and provides no unified worldview or moral/ethical basis for how we do life together as people in society.

      Beauty is all around us. There is simply too much to ignore and to believe it all came from random chaos.

  • techne

    this post seems to be sniffing around the idea of ‘the sublime’ – admittedly, a romantic notion, but one that aims to capture, or better – convey the awe we feel in the face of nature. the sublime is not the same as beauty. the idea refers to ‘awe’ in the sense that we feel a terror in the face of certain things (and this was often manifested in the raw, untrammelled power and wildness of nature) – it is something beyond our control, and we find ourselves small in the face of it. it’s an idea i find quite fascinating.

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      That’s a good point techne…the photo does (and the writing to some degree) does seem skirt the border of Romanticism, but where Romanticism emphasis on individual feelings and freedom over intellectual thought, the groaning of all creation in Romans 8 dispels simplistic notions of beauty and nature.

      On balance, the awe, beauty and power we see in creation, I believe, is God trying to capture our hearts and minds to our otherwise deaf ears, distracted minds, and hard hearts.

      That deep ache we may experience in the beauty we see must be balanced with the different parts of our selves by engaging our minds, our bodies…everything in us to live as whole and integrated people.

  • techne

    or perhaps it’s a longing for Eden? perhaps our spirit knows what was once lost…

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      There is an elegance in simplicity. Eden. Yes…

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