"The world is a smiling place, when we recognize the one who lavishly furnishes it with such good gifts". Augustine.
I find myself often being reminded these days how easy it is for spirituality to be deemed 'right' in such a manner that it essentially 'falls between two stalls ' - that of the Gnostic, on the one side, who teases with the promise of a higher existence or purpose if we abandon the material, and the legalist on the other, censoring anything and everything with an 'infallible' list of things that are never allowed. The language and methods may vary, but the results are always the same - closure of the material world as the principal means to us of conveying the spiritual.
It's amazing, when we consider the vital truths of our faith - of God making the material, inhabiting it in the staggering event of the incarnation that He might redeem it from a real event - the fall - that we can be so closed to the testimony of the 'natural'. The Psalmist knew how immediate this testimony is in so many of the deepest moments of worship, and the Prophets follow suit, often using this canvas as the backdrop to bringing the word of God. The Apostle begins his major apology on the very nature of essential truth by starting here (Romans 1) and Jesus Himself teaches us often about what the coming kingdom is like by drawing from this source.
The reality, of course, is that like those outside of the faith, we often chose a course of detachment from these aspects of the physical because they bring God too close - they make the measure of the message of the Word too immediate for comfort - that He is here, and walking amidst what we encounter.
In a world which is constantly drowning out the 'message' of creation through urbanization, we can often stifle or almost entirely silence that testimony, but it leaves our souls bereft of wealth.
The beauty of life is indeed seductive - it is easy, as Solomon notes in his observations, to become woven into a revelry in the tangible benefits of life which numbs the truth they point to,
but they can also awaken and refresh the soul to the abundant supply of the one in whom we 'live and move and have our being'.
As we travel through this realm, enjoying all the grandeur, the sensual richness of its diverse tapestry of 'moods' and treasures, let us engage with such in a manner that makes us, as those truly made free by the one who is renewing all things to Himself, delight in our Lord and Saviour, that the wealth we share now, may become but the foretaste of the marvel that is fast approaching.