Tonight, after bidding my roommate sweet dreams, I drag an old blanket and pillow out to the boat ramp and creat a little pallet for myself under the stars. A cool eastern wind blows full in my face, chasing and snuffing the final glimmers of light on the western horizon. My toes hang off the end of my blanket and meet the rough concrete, the warmth of the day's light still captured in its stony clutches. The contrast of the lingering warmth and the fresh, cool wind is delicious! The longer I lay there, the more stars appear, almost like a re-enactment of the day the Lord beckoned them into existence with his creative "let there be." I listen closely, almost expecting a faint "it is good" to rise with the next gentle breeze. I don't hear it in audible words, but the symphony of crickets, rustling of dry grasses, lapping of water, and my own inexplicable feeling of awe is enough to make it just as real. It's as if all creation gives a constant echoing cry, "It is good indeed!" And I'm all caught up in it, too! Right there, in that moment, I feel like the purest praise, the highest contemplation I could ever offer is to soak in, with all my senses, the goodness of God in that one instant.
As I lay under the stars, my mind eventually wanders to a brief conversation I had at lunch with a cousin of mine. We were discussing world religions, and how they all have something to offer to the bigger picture of reality. My cousin feels certain that if he studies each religion, he'll be able to select the parts that he thinks are closest to the truth. I'm not nearly as confident about my ability to recognize truth when I see it! I'm afraid my "end product" would end up looking very much like "the world the way Kelli wants it to be" rather than as it really is.
We didn't get very far into this discussion before the tide of conversation changed, but it really stuck with me. (One of my habits, for better or for worse, is continuing to hold conversations in my head long after they're concluded.) Eventually, this internal "conversation" merged with another one - one I've been having with the Gospel of John. In the first several chapters (in much of the book really, but I'm just to chapter 6 right now), John takes pains to drive home the special relationship between Jesus and the Father. Jesus is the creative Word present in the beginning, and he has been sent to dwell among humankind. The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as the One and Only from the Father, full of grace and truth. ... No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only being in the bosom of the Father made [him] known (1:14, 18). Over and over, John emphasizes the unique role of the One and Only Son as the one who mediates what he has seen at the side of God to the rest of us who are bound by "earth-vision."
Tonight as I sat looking up at the night sky, I wondered what it would be like if that was it - if all I knew of God is what I could gather by staring open-eyed at the world around me. Even in the presence of other reflective folks, I'm not very sure that we could come up with a good idea of what this world is like or what it means to exist at all. Perhaps we could find a little insight into who God is - I think God put it out there in creation to be found by everyone - but it feels to me like trying to describe something that keeps sneaking past the corner of my eye. I know I've seen something, I may even be certain it's there, but it's too slippery to describe fully. Yet, if Jesus is who he says he is, who John clearly believed he is, then God is no longer this shadowy figure in our corner eye. God is revealed in some significant, radical way in the person of Jesus Christ! I know I'm biased, since I've already decided that the Way of Jesus is the only way for me, but I'm re-convinced about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ - worlds apart from the teachings of those who, like me, can only "speak from the earth."