Saturday, January 30, 2021

When did we lose our sense of wonder. . .

One evening near the end of January, my wife and I were heading out to a funeral home visitation and then to supper out when we stopped in awe of the moon.  It was large and hung low over the night sky.  The first full moon of January that shone that last Thursday of the month is called the wolf moon.  It reached its fullest at 7.16 pm -- just as we were driving.  They say it is called the wolf moon because of the howling of the wolves in winter's scarcity, looking for food.  It is not the first time we have run to the window to look at the colors of the sunset or the eerie fog surrounding the moon or the so-called Jesus star.  But that is not all.  We spend our time in the Smokeys looking at the scenery and watching for bears.  When we lived on Long Island, we spent most of our time in Manhattan looking at the architectural wonders of church and cathedral, skyscraper and park, museum and library.  Most of the time was spent simply looking with awe upon the beauty of nature or the eloquence of man when nature's beauty inspires him.

I have to admit that while I am curious about them, the vast windmill farms of Iowa or Missouri or Minnesota offer no beauty -- only strange form in exaggerated size.  While modern skyscrapers are marvels of technology, most of them are flat and ordinary -- slabs of concrete decorated by mirrored glass.  Even modern architecture seems to render homes in utilitarian terms with ovens and fridges intruding upon the formal living spaces as if snacks and screens were the sum total of the arts.  Churches have too often followed this path of form follows function in which heavenly liturgy lives in contrast to the stark skeleton of a metal building also used as a warehouse.  

The day after we wondered after the moon that shone into the night sky, I read this essay by Anthony Esolen.  He well describes what I lament.  We no longer enjoy the poetry of the world around us nor do we marvel at the elegance of God's rich creation.  Read his words and tell me you do not agree.  Perhaps it is our slavery to technology and the imagined reality of the screens that has kept us from looking around us or expecting more than brutal shapes and rough surfaces in the buildings we construct and in which we live and work.  Anyway, it made me sad to read his words and it made me fear for a world and a people who miss the beauty God has placed around us and forget to stand in awe before His majesty.  Only to think, as good as this is, it is nothing compared to the heavenly glory our Lord has prepared for us.

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Esolen’s essays and books always seem to have the pressure on the artery we have cut. Just as you were driving your car that evening, the technology did not obscure the beauty of that wolf moon (which I also saw). We drive cars, we live in standardized housing, far from the countryside our parents, grandparents and great grandparents knew. That, however is not enough to block the beauty that can still break through to touch us, if we will allow it. Turning off the blue light of the screens is crucial. The glory or the rising full moon, the overhead squawking of a flock of Sandhill cranes in graceful flight, the antics of a family of squirrels romping around a tree trunk in a city park, all these and infinitely more natural beauties surround us. Our eyes are burned. There is a thick caul preventing sight. We look inward too often, and then looking outward, we replicate what we see inside. May Jesus Christ clear our sight.