I woke to the gray light and the chill of that time right before dawn when the earth can’t quite decide whether it wants to have day time or night. I looked around and realized that most of my camping comrades were still asleep.
There was a brief struggle, as I tried to decide whether or not there was still sleep to be had. I reached a decision. Even if there was, I would forgo it. A thought had popped into my head: a canoe ride in Lake Wilson to watch the sun come up.
I pried myself out of my sleeping bag’s warm, lazy embrace. The top was covered in chilly droplets of dew. Standing, I could see the sleeping bags scattered across the ground, nearly all filled with their sleeping occupants.
After grabbing my flip-flops, I headed for the rocky shore of Lake Wilson. Several canoes bobbed half in, half out of the water. I picked one, stepped into the shallow water, and launched out on my miniature voyage.
There was little wind at this time of the morning, so even though the water wasn’t glass smooth, it was very peaceful. Straight ahead of me the moon was still hanging in the sky, eerily beautiful in the first light.
She was the odd child at the party the sun was throwing. The sun wasn’t here yet, so she didn’t realize that it was his party. So for the moment, she was content to mingle with his guests and watch over the proceedings until he arrived and took over.
There’s something stunningly beautiful about being immersed in the natural world as it is awakening: nothing to distract you; nothing to tell you, “I’m more important; I’m more urgent than the beauty you see right now.”
I drifted farther out into the water and allowed my mind to bob and drift along with the boat.
I thought of how easy it is to remember God when you’re lost in the best parts of His canvas–how thoughts of His craftsmanship come to you unbidden: the simplistic beauty of water, the subtle blends of color that comprise the sky and landscape, the energetic surge of a fish escaping the boundaries of water for only a moment and vanishing again with an exuberant splash. All of it like a living painting, a work of art, a piece of music being written in real time.
But then my mind moved to the crown of creation. You don’t have to escape the city; you don’t have to leave your crowded community; you don’t have to go for a walk in the woods to experience the very best of God’s artwork: a human being.
This creation of the human: the most frustrating, yet rewarding part of His work. One moment it can be lost in His praise; the next it can be self-absorbed, harming itself and others of its kind.
I often forget just how incredible people really are. I suppose it’s because I’m around them so much, I forget to wonder, to ponder, the incredible beauty and mystery behind each one of these magnificent people. No one of them is the same. Each an individual work of love, crafted by the Almighty Himself.
They become commonplace to me and I treat them that way more often than I care to admit. I forget their special magnificence in the scheme of creation.
I get impatient with them. I say hurtful things sometimes. I sometimes even forget that I’m one of them, somehow thinking that I’m different and superior.
But sometimes it takes moments like sitting out on the lake in a canoe to readjust my perspective; to help me realize that my place in God’s story, albeit significant to God, is no more significant than anyone else’s spot.
At the same time, it’s beautiful to know we were important enough, Jesus actually died for us. As stunning as the rest of the natural world is, Jesus didn’t die for blazing sunsets, graceful deer, or majestic oak trees. He died for us. And that reason alone, should be enough to remind us that any time we are around another person, we are mingling with the very best of God’s work.
As I paddled my canoe back toward land and neared the shore, that fiery ball of sun popped over the horizon. He gazed across the lake at the moon, giving her the signal that he would take over from here. I ran my canoe aground, and climbed out, pulling it ashore, grateful for the fresh perspective I’d been given on Creator and creation.