catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 9 :: 2003.04.25 — 2003.05.08


Learning to see the sprouting

The Psalms are filled with amazement. The Psalmist is amazed that even before each one of us was formed in the womb, God knew what we would be like. The Psalmist is amazed at God's power in the storm, and gentleness in leading us beside still and quiet waters. God seems to call us to amazement at all of his works, large and small.

I, however, run into a problem here. I am a 36-year-old adult, and have seen some amazing things in my life. I have watched circus contortionists, seen excellent Shakespeare in London, England, have climbed mountains in Colorado, swum in Lake Superior, seen Niagara Falls and both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, heard wonderful symphonies, been to rock concerts, ridden roller coasters, and seen remarkable films . I have seen examples of heartbreaking kindness and breathtaking meanness. As an adult, I can begin to think that, because I have been there and done that, I have no obligation to notice the little things that God does any more.

G.K. Chesterton theorizes, in his book Orthodoxy that, although we like to discover the systems and methods that God uses to bring about, for example, the growth of flowers, and although we generally accept that God must have a kind of self-perpetuating assembly-line, mass-production, automatic system so that he doesn't need to worry about creating individual flowers, in fact, it is more likely that God creates each and every flower, and is pleased with the beautiful result each time. Similarly, Chesterton suggests, perhaps God claps his hands for each new sunrise, much like a child does.

My daughter just turned five. Her grandmother (who has the profound grandmotherly wisdom one would expect from a retired librarian who raised six amazing children, including my wife) has set aside a tiny plot in their backyard for my daughter to have a garden. Recently, we were visiting there (my wife's parents live within training-wheel biking distance) and I was taking a chainsaw to a diseased tree while my daughter was tending her tiny plot. During a pause between the horrendous noise of my machine, she called up to me, "Papa. Come down here. You have got to see this."

In a rare moment of good decision making, I shut down the chainsaw, climbed all the way down the ladder from my tree house perch and walked across the yard to see what she had found, hoping that it wasn't simply a pill bug or worm, both of which I have encountered multiple times in my life.

Her eyes were as wide as they could go and there was a smile on her face that made my heart hurt. She said nothing, but pointed, and I knelt down and saw that the first tiny green shoot from the seeds she had planted the week before, had broken through the soil and was aiming itself up toward the sun. In another rare moment of good decision-making, I kept my mouth shut, didn't remind her that this was an example of God at work, didn't try to explain to her about photosynthesis or the oxygen cycle or the elements that a plant requires, nor did I even try to identify the plant. I put my arms around her and smiled back and gave her a congratulatory hug.

My daughter, Kathryn, had figuratively hit me on the head with a two-by-four and reminded me that just because I have seen 36 springs already in my life, and just because that was not the first or the greatest shoot I have ever seen break through the soil, doesn't mean that I can't notice when God resurrects the world yet again. More than that, she reminded me that I have an obligation to climb down off my prideful jadedness and see what amazing things God is doing every day.

So I'll try to watch the birds more. I'll try to take the time to look at a cloud. I'll try to listen to what the world sounds like early in the morning. In short, I will try to be more amazed by everything—especially that which I have seen or experienced before.

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