I have noticed lately that I have developed a very shallow realization of how beautiful and breathtaking God’s creation is. This is not a blonde moment or some sort of midlife crisis, but the effect of being surrounded by the same stuff all the time, the ordinariness of life. My cell phone is buzzing, my car radio is playing, there are bills to be paid….. and oh, am I forgetting anything as I leave the house for work?…..….yet in that moment as I do leave the house for work, trying not to spill my coffee, scrambling for my keys in the 5 a.m. darkness, there happens to be a floating ball of light in the sky just above me better known as the moon. Why does this not blow my mind? Is it because I see it often? Does the constant presence of something lead to a loss of grandeur?
As I considered this the other day I was reminded of the very first letter in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
Many will be familiar with this book but in brief it is a novel featuring the letters from Screwtape, a disciple of the devil himself, who advises his nephew Wormwood on deceiving a particularly difficulty “patient.” Of course from their viewpoint everything is reverse, i.e. God is referred to as the enemy. In the first letter Screwtape tells his nephew about an Atheist he once knew who while reading in the British Museum had a “train of thought….beginning to go the wrong way” and “The Enemy [God]… was at his elbow in a moment.” Being alarmed at this, Screwtape “struck instantly at the part of the man which [he] had best under control and suggested that he was just about to go to lunch.” As The Enemy [God] counterattacked, in that this thought that had arisen was far more important, Screwtape then convinced him that this same thought was “too important to tackle at the end of a morning” and that it was “much better to come back after lunch and go into it with a fresh mind.” By this time the man was halfway to the door with lunch as his primary mission. Screwtape tells his nephew that the battle was won once the man got to the street as he saw the newsboy shouting and the bus going past. In other words, the ordinariness of life, real life, extinguished whatever extraordinary thoughts were working in him during his reading.
“Before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man’s head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of “real life” (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all “that sort of thing” just couldn’t be true.” “Keep pressing home on him the ordinariness of things.”
That’s it. The Grand Canyon…extraordinary. The canyons of Moab…..extraordinary. Why? Because I have never personally seen these. The moon….ordinary. The sun…..ordinary. The human eye….ordinary. Why? Not because they are but because I see them every day. It was the ordinariness, by way of the newsboy and the bus, that caused Screwtape’s “patient” to ditch the extraordinary.
Beware the ordinariness of life and its subconscious numbness, and take time to acknowledge and give the extraordinariness of God’s creation its due wonder. It declares His glory (Psalm 19:1).
“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”