To Do or To Be, That is the Question
There is something inherently beautiful about being outside in the glory of what so naturally is nicknamed "God's Country". Taking in the fresh air, admiring the scenery, one can't help but get caught up in it. On a camping trip this past weekend with family and friends, on several occasions I caught myself or one of the others staring off, glassy-eyed, overcome with a profound sense of serenity that is so hard to come by these days.
You look up at the stars and the midnight moon as if there was something different about them. The way the trees sway in the wind feels like they speak another language than that of the trees you see at home. What is it about being out in the wild?
I think it’s the fact that we are able to escape from the long list of things we have to do—the busyness of our daily lives in which each minute of the day is jam-packed and planned in advance. We are completely overwhelmed with doing. Yet the soul longs just to be.
That’s what fascinates me about nature. You see, when you look at the rest of God’s creation it is not obsessed with doing, but just being. This is where I feel that so often we fail.
Man Does, Where Nature Is
Our world revolves around what we have to do. When you meet someone and introduce yourself to them they ask you your name and the next question is always: What do you do? As if your job or even your career defined who you are. Think of what you do for a living. How much does that really tell the world about you?
The mountain spring is majestic, because it just is. It doesn’t do anything but flow, thus bringing life to everything it touches. Trees spring up around it’s banks, while all around is barren desert. It is being what it was meant to be.
The stars and the moon shine brightly in the night sky, bringing light to a world of darkness. They serenely stare down upon us from above. Mesmerized we can’t help but wonder at how far away they really are or ponder at the possibility of counting each and every one. Generations come and go, yet the same stars stand witness to both life and death. They don’t do anything special, but be what they are.
And in nature even man seems to be transformed into something, or rather to find something in himself that is kept hidden, locked deep inside him in the modern world. It doesn’t take very long once he has been set free of what he has to do and almost instantly relearns what it means to be. He experiences a deep sense of freedom, adventure, peace, joy—all of the things that his soul so desperately longs for. And in “God’s country” he is very often much more perceptive to the closeness of God who so often seems so far away.
I frequently wonder how much the technological breakthroughs and scientific advances of modernity have truly changed our world for the better. We have benefits our ancestors could never have imagined, yet we have much less of what we truly desire deep down. We all want to be happy, but so many of us aren’t. We pine for peace, but are engulfed by war. We pride ourselves on our civilization, yet so often it seems an oxymoron.
The soul of man longs for Eden. He spends his entire life in pursuit of the beauty, the freedom, the peace and joy, the intimacy with God that all came so naturally in the first days of creation. In the paradise of that wildly beautiful home that God gave to him, where he wanted for nothing and knew who he truly was, for he had only to be.
He who loved us into existence, who breathed life into our lungs, with the help of his grace will make us what we are meant to become.