Friday, April 17, 2009

Emerson on Nature

"Nature says, -- he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me." Emerson, Nature.

I picked up Emerson, started reading his essay on nature, but didn't get too far, cause I always have to stop and reflect. He captures so vividly the wealth and healing that can be found in the fields, the forests, the hills. From the intricacy of plants, to the rainbow of landscapes, the complex characteristics of light, to the spherical symmetry of the horizon, nature takes us out of ourselves and into a place of wholeness, where "impertinent griefs" fade, and the "perfume and glitter of the nymphs" replaces sorrow.

He claims in the first paragraph of the chapter called Commodity that all the pieces of the purpose of the world fall into one of four categories: Commodity, Beauty, Language, and Discipline. He goes on to write a chapter on each.

He defines Commodity basically as all the USES of Nature. He asks, "What angels invented the splendid ornaments, these rich conveniences... the air above, water beneath and earth in between? This zodiac of lights, this tent of dropping clouds, this striped coat of climates, this fourfold year... Beasts, fire, water, stones, and corn serve him." He quotes the poem "Man" by George Herbet, "More servants wait on man than he'll take notice of." How true! These commodities in Nature--the thousands of necessities which we rely on every day--we take advantage of without a second thought.

Then there's Beauty. Emerson attributes the concept of beauty both to the structure of the eye itself, and to the laws of light. Nature gives us a delight in and for itself; a pleasure arising from outline, color, motion and grouping. This is beauty by raw definition, but how rich to actually experience it? He makes this comment, "The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. The soul is never tired, so long as the eye can see far enough."

Seems like one of my biggest mistakes that gets me so down in life is limiting myself to the four walls of my apartment... Especially when I have two wonderfully energetic boys, who love the outdoors and are constantly exploring the world they live in. I need to keep a horizon in sight. Keep moving... never stay stagnant. Yesterday we tried to go to the beach but couldn't stay because the wind was sooo strong, it was like a sandstorm! So we ended up going to a big park out by Biola, where Nathan got to run around, play on the playground and feed the ducks until he was exhausted! I went with my sister, and we sat together and discussed life. Our friendship nurtures my soul. I had such an amazing time; I drove home wishing every day could be so rich.

Although eventually my maternity-leave will end and I'll return to work, then in the not-too-distant future Nathan will be starting school, and we will no longer have all day, every day to spend together, I want to always find time sit in the presence of a horizon. As one tiny part of God's creation.

It's a good feeling to feel small--insignificant, even--when looking up at the clouds, or the treetops, or the stars on a summer night. God can truly strip us of our pride and self-centered foolishness, and replace it with respect for his sovereignty.

Lord let me live in awe of your beauty as it's reflected in your creation. Let me understand the vastness of the earth, while beginning to grasp the depth of your grace. With each sunrise remind me that your mercies are new, and your love endures to a thousand generations of those who love you and keep your commands. Teach me to love your son as the greatest of all your gifts, guide me as I forsake the world's pleasures to follow him. Give me a hunger for your word, that I, like David, would long to meditate on it day and night. Amen.

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