To be Big-Souled (and Beachfront)

By:  Jana Greene

There is a scene in the Movie, “The Bucket List” in which Jack Nicholson‘s character, Edward, and Morgan Freeman’s character, Carter, are flying in a private plane over the polar ice cap.  Both terminally ill, they engage in a conversation in which Carter waxes about the beauty of the night sky and the ice and ocean below, giving God credit for its splendor.

“It’s indescribably beautiful,” he says.  “Really one of God’s good ones.”

And Edward, dry and skeptical, barely glances out of the window from above his bifocals.  He describes the same starry landscape as “desolation”.

“I envy people who have faith,” he says.  “I just can’t get my head around it.”

Carter’s reply:  “Maybe because your heads’ in the way.”

I love this scene, because it is relatable.  I can certainly relate to Carter’s appreciation for what is Creation.  But I’ve also felt like Edward –although he was a very wealthy and intelligent businessman – in that  faith seems the single luxury he cannot afford.  He wants to believe, but he has absorbed too much of what the world has to offer, and what the world says makes sense. 

There are things so beautiful in this world that they make no sense at all.

My “polar ice cap” is the beach.  Having lived within 15 minutes of the shore for a dozen years now, setting my eyes on the sea is still exhilarating for me, and searching the sand for treasures is still a Zen-like experience to my spirit.  Scanning the edge where the water meets the land, I watch carefully as the waves deliver shells with every flow and suck them back out with every ebb.  It is an endlessly different place every time I visit, and I like suprises.

Years ago, I was fascinated with the process of the tides.  Why does the moon pull and push at the seas?  How did the ancients know enough to produce charts in advance of tides and navigate dangerous waters?

The science was fascinating to learn, but it didn’t help me to enjoy the beach.  The more I researched, the less I reveled in the mystic marriage of water and earth.  Believing that if I could understand something, I would  appreciate it even more is exactly opposite  tenant of faith.  I appreciate the One who made it in order to understand His nature, not nature in general.  It was missing the point entirely.

He is my Father.  I know Him personally.  The world tells us not to be “small minded”.  I try to remind myself not to be “small-souled”.  It isn’t that what can be proven is unimportant; it’s just that He is so much BIGGER than that.

Look at a single sea shell… Is the intricate design a happy evolutionary accident, or one of the millions of ways God pays attention to detail?

A pearl may have started as an errant grain of sand, but who decided that it would not remain a grain of sand?  (As an errant child of God’s, I especially appreciate that His penchant for making beauty out of randomness and mistakes.)

Google and Wikipedia can tell you what makes a sunset over the river red, pink and orange…but there is no textbook answer for why the colors just happen to be so pleasing to us.

Human beings can break down the chemical make-up of the oceans, but the depths of it are still more mysterious than known.  Do we even make the correlation between the vastness of the seas and diversity of the life living in it to a Supreme Creator, or do our heads get in the way?

Sometimes, my head gets in the way, too.

It’s easy for me to remember that God is present in the creation when stroll by the seaside admiring His handiwork. I know that without Him, the greatest majesty on this planet is only desolation.  Sometimes, that I go to the seaside to remind myself that God is present in the creation that is my life, too. That He is still in charge…that He is, indeed, ‘in the details.’

I forget that I am “indescribably beautiful” to Him.  And you are, too.

Really one of God’s good ones; you can afford to have faith in that.