The Danube River sparkled and flowed beneath the bridge on which I stood in Budapest, Hungary. The view was stunning. It took my breath away to lay eyes on the inspiration for Johann Strauss’ “The Blue Danube” The pictures I snapped with my cell phone simply couldn’t do the scene justice. I marveled at the gorgeous creation with which God has gifted us.
My awe soon turned to conviction. Is Budapest, Hungary the only location where I can recognize and revel in the beauty of God’s earth? The entirety of our planet was created by God, so certainly there are glorious scenes everywhere. Except that I don’t always take the time to stop, look, and appreciate them.
The well-known Christian hymn “For The Beauty Of The Earth” sprung to mind. It was written by Englishman Folliott S. Pierpoint who was inspired by the beauty of the country around him to pen it. Pierpoint did not have to travel 5,000 miles away from his home like I did to get to Budapest to experience the beauty of God’s creation. No, all he had to do is look “over and around” him right where he was.
Apparently prepositions are the culprit for us ignoring God’s world which is right in our own backyard. Instead of looking “over and around” like Pierpoint did, we are too busy looking AT what we want, ON the goals we have set, and AHEAD to what we desire. Who has time to look OVER and AROUND us at what God has placed there? Raising my hand in shame.
I am blessed to live on Florida’s Emerald Coast–yes, the one just slammed by Hurricane Michael. The Emerald Coast is the Florida coastal area on the Gulf of Mexico stretching for about one hundred miles from Pensacola to Panama City. The name is taken from the colorful waters in the Gulf which are often a dazzling shade of my favorite color, green. Not only is the water color breathtaking, but the sand on the beaches is heavenly. The Emerald Coast has some of the purest white sand in the state. The crystals in this sand are almost pure quartz providing soft, fluffy sand. So white is this beach sand that a friend of mine’s two year old niece who had never seen sand before called it “hot snow.”
Tourists flock to the Emerald Coast. They travel from great distances at sometimes great expense to get a brief glimpse of what I have available to me on a daily basis. I live in the town of Valparaiso, whose name means “vale of paradise” in Spanish. So do I oooh and aaah like the tourists on a daily basis at the local beauty around me? Sadly, no.
Now that I have recognized my failure to observe and appreciate God’s handiwork around me, what am I going to do about it? Cue those prepositions. I will make a conscious effort to regularly look UP, DOWN, and all AROUND me to see His wondrous creation.
Singing the words to “For The Beauty Of The Earth” will provide a road map for me to achieve a better awareness of my surroundings. The first stanza of the hymn mentions the beauty of the earth. I can look DOWN to see flowers, sea oats, grass, etc. I can look OUT to see the local bodies of water which reflect clouds and light.
The beauty of the skies is also mentioned in the opening stanza of the hymn. I can look ABOVE to see puffy clouds (sometimes in cool shapes such as a bunny) and blue skies during the day. The second stanza of “For The Beauty Of The Earth” mentions the “sun and moon and stars of light.” I can look UP to view twinkling stars and a luminous moon at night.
Intentional looking is my game plan. But when will I do this? The hymn also provides a suggestion as to the regularity of my looking. The lyrics mention the beauty “of each hour.” OK, I am sleeping during a few hours of the day, so I am not taking the idea literally to see beauty each and every hour–although it is a beautiful thing to see the inside of my eyelids for several hours each night. The point is not that we have to look for something on an hourly basis. The idea is conveyed that we need to constantly be aware of our surroundings, recognize who made them, and be appreciative of that beautiful handiwork.
I may never stand on a bridge over the gorgeous Danube River again. But I can still experience breathtaking beauty provided courtesy of my Creator on a regular basis. The beauty of His creation is all around me; I just need to open my eyes and look around right where I am. Won’t you do the same?
Just WONDER-ing: Do you make a conscious effort to look for beauty in the setting where you are? Do you think you would see more beauty if you intentionally looked for it? What’s something beautiful in creation that you have noticed today?