A theological reflection on these cooler days
I invite you to journey with me into the depths of awe, wonder and beauty. Let us weave together in our reflections the ancient biblical words of Psalm 8 and Matthew 18, entwined with some insights on wonder and on beauty, to illuminate the path before us during these cooler days.
As the cold winds blow right through you and the frosty grass crunches underfoot, Psalm 8 reminds us of the vastness of God’s creation, saying, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them? (NRSV)”
In the stillness of this season, we are reminded of our place in the grand tapestry of existence and creation. We are but a fleeting breath in the cosmic symphony, and yet God’s eternal love embraces and sustains us all.
In Matthew 18, Jesus invites his disciples to embrace a childlike innocence and humility, centring the ‘vulnerable ones’ at the heart of Jesus’ Community and not the powerful or privileged, saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such a child in my name welcomes me.” (NRSV)
In the depth of winter, when the world seems duller and where it feels a little harder to find energy for the day, it is the perfect time to rediscover the wonder of a child. A child gazes upon the land and sky with wide-eyed fascination, marvelling at their delicate beauty. They can find joy in the simplest of things, unburdened by the cares and worries that often consume our adult hearts and minds.
Matthew Fox speaks of wonder as the foundation of spirituality, reminding us that we are born with this gift, waiting to be awakened moment by moment. In the midst of winter’s quietude, wonder is calling to us. It beckons us to embrace the mystery of life as a gift of God, to find solace in the hidden miracles that surround us every day. It is the sparkle in the eyes of a child. This breathless awe rises within us as we witness this in the beauty of creation, in the embrace of each other, in the sharing of community life. And in many other ways, we could name if we could see with the eyes of wonder.
And what of beauty? David Bentley Hart illuminates its essence, describing it as “the infinite radiance of God’s glory made manifest in creation.” In winter’s chilly grip, beauty may appear veiled in this season, but it is there for those with eyes to see. The starkness of bare branches against a pale blue or grey sky, the warmth of the winter sun, the desire to splash in those ice-cold puddles, the hot coffee or tea with friends —these are glimpses of beauty, subtle and serene, waiting to stir our souls, all reflecting the glory of God.
As we explore these insights, we find ourselves standing at the threshold of awe, wonder and beauty. Winter’s stillness invites us to pause, to reflect deeply upon the mysteries and wonders of life. It is a season that teaches us patience and resilience.
And so, colleagues in Christ and spiritual sojourners, I encourage you to embrace the graces of awe, wonder and beauty. To discover and rediscover beauty as you navigate the winter landscapes of this season. Open your hearts to the whispers of God’s creation, and let the beautiful dawns, the winter sun, the cloudy rain and the glow of the dusk gently remind you of life’s delicate beauty and vulnerability, which are gifts, reflecting God’s glory and Christ’s re-ordering. Embrace the childlike wonder that dances or stops lost in awe within you and with the beauty that, sometimes, only a child’s gaze can see. May we all find great comfort and inner joy in embracing the graces of awe, wonder and beauty. As we all seek out the beauty that hides in plain sight, for it is a balm and warmth for the soul.
May the graces of awe, wonder and beauty guide you through this season and beyond. May the beauty of God’s creation ignite a fire within you, warming your spirit with hope and inspiration. So that the words of the Psalmist will also be our song, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Amen.
Rev Ben Gilmour
Director, Vital Leadership Team