We went camping last weekend at Allegany. I took the opportunity of safe, largely car free roads to do an evening bike ride. As I was peddling along, enjoying the breathtaking view, I grew very philosophical. I was thinking how this was the closest I could get to experiencing the sacred. There is something about both ends of the day that are completely unlike the rest of it. The quiet hush, the muted light, the feeling of quiet expectancy, are unique to dawn and dusk. They are more awesome, when experienced in nature, than anything else I can think of.
When the bible talks about “the holiest of holies”, I think of this. I do see the most holy in nature, in those moments that so impress us. I thought about church, and how it is asked of us to not refrain from meeting together. The reasons for church are legion (pun intended), from support and comfort, to accountability, but I don’t find that most sacred feeling around other people.
To me, our highest expressions of Christian life are like really bad crayon drawings of holiness. I thought of this while looking at the breathtaking beauty in front of me, and how well or badly it can be depicted in paint on canvas. The greatest painters of the world, can only evoke memories of beauty like this, not truly capture it. Most painters only embarrass themselves and us, with rude attempts. I thought that a good analogy of our attempts at a Christ-like life. Have you ever seen a poor attempt at a water-color sunset? It just looks sad. In the past, Christianity has gotten a bad rap for many things, but we are just attempting to capture what so few can. We see it, we experience it, we want so much to share what is so beautiful with others, but our attempts are clumsy and amateurish.
Maybe some people will see this as another criticism of Christianity. I don’t mean it that way, I only mean to express what I see as the gap between us and God, between our mundane daily life and the beauty which is around us, in us, yet always a bit out of reach.