Heavenly Color

Driving along 101 this morning, I was nearly blinded by the glory of the early morning sun, reflected in the waters of the Hood Canal. My soul was touched with wonder in the way the light edges the greens of grass and trees and the mountains with gold. No one else was driving past at that time, and I cast only a fleeting glance toward the mountains — it seems such a shame to let that depth of rich color go unrecorded. And yet God expends such beauty every day in profligate waste. By rights, there should have been bleachers full of people watching that sunrise for an hour or more.

As we pull away from the docks of Bainbridge Island, the hazy bulk of Mount Rainier becomes visible around the end of the coastline, suspended in ghostly majesty at the horizon. How terrible it would be to lose my sight, to no longer enjoy the subtle shadings of greens and blues in the water, sky, and forested shore. Even the works of man, ugly off-white storage tanks and rusty breakwaters cannot mar the stunning beauty of this day.

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I am often frustrated by my inability to capture and store up the scenes my eye can see. I remember camping as a child in Kandersteg, Switzerland, and rising early one morning to take snapshots of the alps. I was bitterly disappointed when my pictures came back from the developer — how bland and colorless they seemed in comparison to the glorious blues and golds I remembered. Although my digital camera performs much better than that ancient children’s camera, I frequently feel dissatisfied with the pictures I take, particularly of distant landscapes.

Our ferry had to slow and turn to avoid a small boat that had plotted an intercept course — finally the boat’s captain realized his peril and swerved to avoid us — a jarring note to the morning. As the Coast Guard patrol boat’s hovering presence reminds, we live under the constant threat of terrorist activity. Thoughts of the attack against the USS Cole casts a sobering pall over my enjoyment of the morning light.

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What would it be like to enjoy the glorious goodness and beauty of God without the ugly intrusion of man’s sin? C.S. Lewis has perhaps described it best, in the final paragraph of The Last Battle:

… but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us, this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

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