April 10, 2019

Gawk A Little

Written By Cary Schmidt

Ernest Becker wrote in Denial of Death, “…By the time we leave childhood we have repressed our vision of the primarily miraculousness of creation. We have closed it off, changed it, and no longer perceive the world as it is to raw experience.”

My first 18 months in Connecticut, I couldn’t believe the immersive beauty—everywhere all the time. Every season was colored uniquely. Every town and neighborhood had its own New England charm. Every time I drove my car, my eyes were wide with wonder, trying in vain to take it all in. Every drive down the “same street” revealed new sights I hadn’t seen before. It was an adventure of mind-blowing proportions.

I wasn’t just driving. I was gawking—impossibly trying to take it all in. 

Seven years later, I just drive. I find myself lulled into the fog of what’s on my mind. Familiar scenes pass by my vehicle windows with redundant, mindless blur. Ironically, those scenes are still as beautiful as ever. The multi-colored artistry of God is ever-present, all around me, but my senses and my mind have become normalized. I’ve stopped seeing what was once overpowering and captivating. The wonder has been tamed, as if forced back into the recesses by the urgent. 

The beauty and wonder are still accessible. But they are simply no longer involuntary. Too many trivial things vie for attention. Too many weighty considerations fight for mind-share. Too many distractions compete for mental energy. The conversations in my head ever threaten to “redact” the beauty before my eyes and the wonder of God’s unfolding story. 

Today, if I am to enjoy the beauty and the wonder, it must be decisional. I must choose to lift the veil of distraction and take it in. I must fight to return to that child-like awe. Often I don’t. Often I do; and when I do, I am reminded of who He is, who I am, what He’s done, and what He’s presently doing. I am reminded that God is good and gracious, and His story is beautiful. 

Deliberately pressing back against the circumstantial disruptors allows us to deliberately re-enter the story—with all of its beauty and wonder—that Jesus is writing within and around us.

Life is that way.Trivial masks eternal. Urgent masks important. Redundant masks vibrant. The dutiful redacts the beautiful. 

In the race of our day, God’s colorful adventure becomes flattened—grayscale, monochrome, and monotonous. Ironically, the beauty is still there, but we grow color-blind. Our eyes glaze over. Our hearts turn inward. Our minds obsess. 

All the while, the beauty is passing by in a blur. The sun rises and sets. Another day enters obscurity. But we are busy fiddling, worrying, or calculating. The marriage matures. The kids grow up. The bills get paid. The laundry gets folded. What we once envisioned as a dance just becomes drudge. Ho-hum. 

Our normal ceases to be viewed as beautiful.

God calls it being asleep, and His call each day is to “awake!” It’s still a beautiful adventure. It’s still a delightful dance. The beauty and wonder of your story is still captivating—overwhelming actually, if you re-enter it. It’s passing by, so gawk a little! It’s right before you, so stop long enough for your heart to melt again! It’s God’s gift to you, so pause long enough to celebrate it!

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits….”—Psalm 68:19