Recently, some of my most intense and meaningful times of worship has been getting up early and splitting firewood. I’ll get up before sunrise, grab my wood maul and pop in my headphones. One morning last winter, I remember sweating like crazy in the freezing temperatures and listening to Sigur Rós while watching the sun rise over three feet of snow. For me it’s moments like this where I most vividly feel the presence and goodness of God.
Now, this can be boiled down to endorphins, good music, quite a bit of beauty and perhaps a lack of sleep… but that’s just the point. All of these things are from God. As I work out, my body produces endorphins that act as an “upper”. The music that’s playing in my ears… while composed by musicians who were most likely tripping on acid, to me, their music is art and reveals beauty that has it’s source in God (all good things come from God). The sun rising over the snow; in the winter life of central Pa, is there anything more serene and beautiful that one can encounter? The goodness and beauty in these things are given as gifts for us to enjoy. So go ahead and boil my morning wood-splitting experiences down to a few facts and scientific explanations. This will not bother me because I make no differentiation between the scientific and the spiritual. To me, they are one in the same.
To demonstrate this point in another way, consider the story of the staircase in the Loretto Chapel in New Mexico. Obviously the Catholic Church has hailed this as a miracle. It may be gimmicky and have more PR surrounding it than there should be… but think about it for a minute or two. For those nuns who needed a staircase, is it any less a miracle if it was some drunk carpenter and not “an angel sent from God”? They had a need and no means to meet their need. (In my cynicism, I speculate that it was probably some carpenter who really wanted to try his crazy design, but couldn’t find anyone desperate enough to let him for fear of his failure, except a bunch of unsuspecting nuns).
Regardless of the mundane details of how it was built, how it still stands, what kind of wood it actually is, etc…. the nuns had the stairs they needed to get to the choir loft. Their need was met. And perhaps a drunken carpenter was just the “angel” God facilitated to get the job done… who knows, who cares.
I lean towards the idea that most miracles are scientifically explainable… but that doesn’t make them any less significant to me. In fact, for the engineer in me, I relish the beauty in the laws of nature, physics, science that play out to “create” the miracle. It is all done by Him who has created these laws that govern the universe. He has set everything in motion foreseeing and planning everything that would occur… every permutation of every possible outcome is known by Him and it was all planned out before the foundation of the world.
So often we look for God to step into our reality, to swoop in from the somewhere “out there” and do something that defies the norm. We expect laws of physics to be momentarily nullified, for something to happen that is not scientifically explainable. But, we forget that He created the laws of physics. The universe is His. Every moment of life in His universe is a moment of interaction with Him.
Many people enjoy the work of another human. Whether it’s the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the photography of Ansel Adams, the designs of Ben Franklin or Thomas Edison, the poetry of Walt Whitman…. when you study their works, you feel as though you get to know who they were. You start to understand a piece of their character.
Every moment we spend in God’s universe, we have the opportunity to learn of Him. More so than we can learn of the artists listed above, because they are all dead and their works are static. God is alive and actively involved in His creation… we interact with Him in in every breath.
All the laws that govern the visible and invisible universe are His. When we look for Him to swoop in from “out there” and defy the norm, we completely miss Him at work all around us, in us, and through us.