[I wrote this piece on my iPhone during one of my flights earlier this summer. It not only represents to me the inadequacy of my words to capture the moment and its poignancy, but it also encourages me when I see the power of those same, inadequate words to help me remember what I experience in life, and to reorient my focus when I find myself aimless and scattered in my daily routine. Beauty shouts all around us… if we only have the ears to listen.]
We fly almost due East, and I see Lake Tahoe out my window to the left. Dusk settles over the lake, which looks massive even from the air, and I am suddenly transported down to the shore. I know exactly what this time of day feels like down there, the smells of pine trees and cooling sands, what the waves sound like as they mellow from their afternoon swells into twilight calm. I can make out Emerald Bay, the narrow cutout at the southwest corner of the lake, and I imagine the last rays of the sunset glinting off the windows of the Vikingsholm castle nestled on the far inland shore.
I’m reading N.D. Wilson’s Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl and “The Greatest Story Never Told” from the Doctor Who season 4 soundtrack bursts through my earbuds, crescendos of climax as I look out the window again and catch a pale pink horizon with cotton candy clouds that look impossibly white against the earth below, which has already darkened into twilight. I find myself almost in tears, Wilson’s poetic prose swirling through my mind and my eyes transfixed by the sheer beauty of this impossible, ridiculous, seemingly insignificant but in fact massively important world. Have I been walking through life with my eyes closed? How long has it been since I saw—really SAW—the world this way, in all its extravagant magnificence? Why doesn’t this beauty thrill my soul and steal my breath every single waking day? The sheer wonder that I exist, and more importantly that I exist as a child of God, an image-bearer of the Creator in His wild world—it should bring me to the end of myself every single day. Why doesn’t it?!
One of my favorite Doctor Who scenes comes during Amy Pond’s first trip in the TARDIS, when the Doctor tethers her from the inside but allows her to float, weightless, in a “bubble” outside the TARDIS, protected and yet fully experiencing the wonder of open space. Her gorgeous auburn mane floats and swirls around her, and her rapt and wondrous expression says it all. How can this be real? How am I actually experiencing this?
That’s how I feel sometimes in this glorious and ghastly world. Sadly, I allow daily distractions to drag me down too often, but in moments like this, I wish I could see the world through those eyes of wonderment more consistently. I think I would smile even more than I do, and my attitude of gratitude would expand beyond the leaps it has grown in recent years.
I am grateful for the chance to pop the bubble I live in all too frequently – to more clearly see the everyday wonders that surround me – and I whisper, fervent and urgent, God, don’t let me forget this. Don’t let my eyes see without knowing. Don’t let me walk off this plane and forget the glory of this beautiful catastrophe of a world that You have created. I don’t want to be blind. I want to see and know, as I am seen and known by You.
After all, that is the Greatest Story Ever Told.