Pied Beauty Perspective

Throwback Thursday post – originally published 19 April 2015 – I thought I’d share one of my favorite posts. Enjoy the re-read (or first time reading).

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-color as brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches wings;
Landscape plotted and pierced – fold, fallow, and plow;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow, sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise Him.
~ Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877

I pause to reread that last line several times: He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change . . . .” In modern English: “The God who Creates, whose beauty cannot change . . . .”  Did you catch that? His beauty       cannot change. Did you pause at that thought? (I hope so and so did Gerard Manley Hopkins, by the way). The poem itself, a hymn of creation, is a celebration of the seemingly imperfect parts of Creation; Hopkins finds the imperfect worth celebrating.  But why celebrate the imperfect?  In a world obsessed with “perfection”, a world that tends to seek and praise perfection, why celebrate the imperfect, the imperfections?  After all, the idea that a perfect and Holy God might actually delight in the imperfections of His creation is mind-boggling at the very least.

Yet, it is those very same imperfect aspects and elements of                   Creation, His Creation, that points us to the permanence of His         power, the permanence of His beauty. . .and we find ourselves compelled to, unable to resist, we must respond, we must act: “He who   fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise Him.” It’s as if the celebration of the imperfect, the beauty in the imperfect, those ugly imperfections, compel us to worship God.

In French, the verb ‘ to worship’ is translated à l’adorationto adore. In other words, when French-speaking Believers ‘worship’, it’s with the expectation and understanding of being present to adore, to        engage in adoration of, spend time adoring God, to give Him all of their “louange et d’adoration” (‘praise & (give) adoration’). Imagine: pausing Time to come into the presence of an ever-present God, to consecrate the moment as “Holy” and adore Him. Somehow,  our connotation of ‘worship’ gets lost in the translation.

Then what, exactly, is ‘worship’? In the book, Love Your God with all Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul, author J.P.        Moreland writes, Worship is not under the control of human beings, nor is the form it takes up to their whims. Rather, worship is a response to a God who initiates toward His people, gives them life, and shows Himself on their behalf (161). Maybe it’s time to redefine our connotation of ‘worship’. . . .

God, because He delights in and loves an imperfect Creation, initiates celebrating His delight and love for Creation by revealing Himself through the free and gracious bestowment of gifts: He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also freely give, along with him, graciously give us all things(Romans 8:32).  In response to God freely and graciously giving us all gifts, we are compelled to adore Him by giving thanks, to respond with thanksgivingAnd he [Jesus] took the bread, gave thanks. . . .              (Luke 22:19a). In the Greek, the words “he…gave thanks” is one word: “eucharisteo”.

Eucharisteo – the word from which we derive the word “Eucharist”- “Communion” or “The Lord’s Supper”, the central symbols of               Christianity (Voskamp, 34). The root word of ‘eucharisteo‘ is ‘charis‘, meaning grace. Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace (favor) and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be a gift and gave         thanks….’Eucharisteo‘ also holds its derivative – the Greek word ‘chara’, meaning joy (32). Take another look:

Charis – Grace

Eucharisteo – Thanksgiving

Chara – Joy

Grace, thanksgiving, joy. Eucharisteo (33).  Grace (gifts) is given and I give thanks (adore the Giver), and experience joy. Finding joy in pied beauty, the imperfect, is worth celebrating. Giving thanks opens the door for God to reveal Himself to His children, to us. Is this why the Psalmist was “confident [he] I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13b)?

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter every day epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. (~Sarah Ban Breathrock).

Perhaps the answer lies in perspective – not only how I choose to see, but what I choose to see.  Am I focusing on the imperfections and gallons of lemonade I’ll be making with all of life’s lemons? Or am I choosing to see the beauty in the imperfect, the pied beauty?

A gift list. A gift list not of gifts I want but of gifts I already have. A gift list of gratitude because I can choose my “heart-ittude”. A gift list that reveals His mercies that are new every morning. A gift list allowing my heart to begin to “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” A gift list counting the thousands of ways God         loves me. A gift list that “sees” pied beauty. A gift list that brings me to the place of beholding the One whose beauty is past change….

Gift List ~ Grace List

1. chocolate-covered pretzels  (in a hospital room)
2. “good sleepin’ weather”
3. get well cards, flowers, and homemade meals brought
4. a window seat with comfy pillows
5. a lilac bush beginning to bloom . . . .