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Beauty in the Ruins

Wintry sunbeams suffuse the morning mist with a luminous white glow. The frozen river below shines like a seam of quartz shot through with ribbons of dark light. Black frozen pines bristle above the shore, frosted with diamonds on every needle. It takes my breath away.

How can a creation groaning “under the bondage of corruption” be so unutterably beautiful? How can winter—a time of death and danger and darkness here in the north—be so lustrous? It is to the glory of God.

A new earth is promised us. Think of it—if we now see but the shattered remnants of God’s original creation, corrupted by the curse and progressively ruined by our devastating disregard of God’s command to be stewards of the earth—my heart constricts with yearning to see it unspoiled, renewed to unimaginable glory.

Earth as we know it is a heartbreaking fusion of beauty and pain. Indeed, some of the beauties of the planet that move me most seem permeated with loss. Green leaves are lovely, but the gold and scarlet of dying leaves is magnificent. The delicate perfection of a snowflake or a dragonfly is all the more exquisite because I’m aware of how transient it is. I gaze fiercely at the sunset, greedy to capture its beauty in my mind before it darkens. Splendid mountain ranges speak of violent upheaval. Even pearls form at the cost of constant irritation to their hosting oysters, and diamonds form in dark depths under crushing pressure and heat.

The creations of man are rife with loss, too. A Rachmaninoff concerto is rapturous, but its tragic beauty causes the listener to weep. Men carefully unearth the wonderful sculptures of our distant past, and set them up to admire the smashed and eroded remains of their graceful beauty. My heart aches at the light in a Rembrandt painting, but so much is dark on the canvas and in the subject.

I find it impossible to grasp the idea of light without darkness, beauty without corruption, life without death. But I keep trying to smooth pathways for those concepts in my brain, because I know they are real and will define my future, and because once in a while I catch just a glimpse of their reality.
Not only do I look forward to a world of unmarred beauty, but I long for the day when I, too, will carry no remnant of the curse. God will wipe away every tear from my eye, and every wicked thought from my mind, and there will be “no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.” Pain, loss, darkness and corruption will be gone forever, and in their place joy, love, glory and light. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

I think on things, I weep.
If I listen to the music, I weep.
I weep, looking at the photographs,
I drip tears on the pages of my books.
My praying mingles with my weeping—
My heart aches, gripped
Tight with yearning for that far country,
That sweet Lover.
I weep to be gone from here, to the Real.

Ever are tears just under the surface
Of my pleasant life,
Starting suddenly at a stray joy, a chance light, a sudden sharp pity.
I live my lovely life
In the dim—veiled from the Glory
But blinded now and then
By Light piercing through the tears—that is, the torn places
And by the tears—that is, the weeping.

LeeAnn Bonds 2003

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