"What God esteems beautiful is that which presents in its perfection all the fitness of art, and that which tends to the usefulness of its end.
He, then, who proposed to Himself a manifest design in His works, approved each one of them, as fulfilling its end in accordance with His creative purpose".
Basil - The Hexameron.
"Life", said Marvin (in Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy) - "don't talk to me about it".
It certainly can be a struggle at the best of times. Whatever we do, or try to do, we live
in the knowledge that everything is surely running in a particular direction - and if we think about it, it's very disquieting. You could actually define the future as when everything now living will be dead, and what natural order remains, due to entropy, will be truly and entirely diminished.
No wonder Marvin felt so constantly depressed regarding the general futility of it all -
global warming and climate change are peanuts before such forces.
It all seems a very, very long way from the 'very good' final day of that original creation week,
when everything was marked by a very different state of play - a creation that could have known an existence marked by the absence of the death and corruption that now so scars our times.
It's almost impossible for us, beyond teasing 'glints' through imagination, to conceive of such a world - where death and decay as the dominant forces of existence would simply have been unknown - but we most certainly long for such a splendor. Our deepest joys and aspirations resonate with the possibility of once more tasting and knowing such a reality - a harking after a moment encountered by our race, so long ago in the garden.
It would be easy for us to just seek to ignore that call - to just live within the tunnel of the here and now, but most of us know that simply just won't do - to become so narrow in our aims leaves us like Marvin, totally depressed. We know there is more, even here, amongst the wastelands of a realm gone bad. The rain may make most days gray and miserable (we can tell you all about that here in England!), but when the dawn breaks upon a fresh, bright day, we are reminded that there's something more.
There's a verse in one of Paul's letters to the Corinthians that is truly amazing.
Referring back to the original moments of the creation work itself, the Apostle states:
"God, who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Right back at the start, Genesis says, the earth was created 'without form, and void'.
Right now, we have a universe scorched by chaos, corruption and decay.
It would be the easiest thing to look at such desolation and conclude it was valueless - naturally, there's nothing to be done with it, but the same miracle, notes the scriptures, that brought light and thereby order into the original wasteland is now at work once more in this fallen order, and so there's a way which will allow us to look and to take the first step once more beyond the corruption.
The futility of this present life can often leave us so wanting, needing, a release from the bondage that the consequences of our fall has placed upon us, but even the fragile moments of beauty we occasionally encounter now profoundly affirm that 'the old field' of time, space, matter and the natural senses can be 'weeded, dug and sown for a new crop.... We may be tired of this old field, but God is not' (C S Lewis: The New Creation).
Beneath the 'natural' state of play - the cycle of mortality - there is another power at work in our benighted realm. The goal is renewal and redemption of all that was intended and purposed for good, and the guarantee of that end is the person and work of Jesus Christ.
As I face yet another 'summer' week of bleak skies, heavy with yet more rain (Marvin would approve), I reflect on the fact that the dawn is approaching where that marvelous light, which clothed creation before the sun and moon, will once more adorn this realm - the light which rises in us when we understand that through Christ, God breaks the slavery of our bondage to this present terrible decay.
Christ's life, death, resurrection and ascension marks the fact that this present realm is not the conclusion of existence - we were not simply made to be bent low beneath the tyranny of the temporal, but to live, boldly and brightly, as whole creatures within a glorious creation, infused with the marvel and the splendor of its creator and sustainer. That is what is on the way.
Till the day truly dawns, we have a hope that keeps us from being very depressed -
something to ponder amidst the gray.