I often marvel at the extravagance in nature. Gold, peach, and red splash across the sky, the low sun tinting dark woods or reflecting off brick and cement and glass and filling our dim interior with golden warmth twice a day. When I miss the perfect photo and watch many months for it to return I notice that the patterns in the clouds, the quality of the light is never quite repeated. Every moment is its own lavish present.
I’ve thought too about how God’s extravagance extends to his treatment of us, giving us not just His Son but our true selves, not just ourselves but everything else, not just His kingdom but Himself.
But until last night I’d never thought about how God’s extravagance is displayed in who He has made us to be and how He has made us to live. Maybe I’ve been numbed by the world’s emphasis on efficiency.
Last night I watched one skater after another glide and twirl and leap. I sat awed by the flexible perfection of Yulia Lipnitskaya, delighted by the confident playfulness of Kaetlyn Osmond, calmed by the gently gracious beauty of Carolina Kostner as she turned the arena into holy space where for a few moments everyone stilled and breathed peace. I wasn’t alone in thinking she seemed to be praying with her whole body; the commentators used words like “transcendent.”
Does God delight in watching the people he made fast run and those he made graceful dance and those with an eye for color and form paint as much as he enjoys watching each moment’s sunrise and sunset unfold itself around the global sky?
Maybe Kathleen Norris wasn’t far off when she said that “poets, like monks, are useless but indispensible.” Who’s to say that the world doesn’t need a figure skater more than another policeman or a poet more than another doctor?
I recall words from a not-so-long-ago Olympic gold medal winner, “God made me fast, and when I run I feel His pleasure.” Might the things that bring us deep joy as we become part of God’s continuous making of beauty in the world be not, in fact, frivolous but indispensable?
The heavens declare the glory of God by letting Him splash His unquenchable overflow onto its canvas. Maybe we do too when we open our lives for God to pour His spacious beauty and useless but indispensible extravagance into His world through our lives.