Ten days ago, as I was preparing to leave for Vancouver, my neighbor asked me if I could bring some Vancouver weather home. I told him I would do my best, unless they wouldn’t let me bring it through customs.
I’m sitting on my back porch this morning and the thermometer says it is 56 degrees. Not that I am taking any credit, but you could call me the neighborhood hero. You would be wrong, but you could call me that.
As I wrote last week’s column on my iPhone (I am not repeating that process this week), we were waiting for a ferry to Victoria Island. We spent a wonderful afternoon in Butchart Gardens, one of the most intentionally beautiful places we have ever visited.
Intentional beauty is not better or worse than the natural beauty we have seen in some of our travels (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Smoky Mountains); it is just different. I think one of the mistakes we make in life is comparing, rather than appreciating, beauty.
Beauty arrives for us through all of our senses. We hear music, smell blossoms, see sunsets, taste some good home cooking, feel the coolness of a morning at the close of a blistering summer. And then somehow we decide that our favorite music or food or view is better than others, and we crave the sensations that stimulate our senses, rather than craving fellowship with the Creator of all beauty.
Vancouver is a place of varied beauty. Three million people live there. One million of them were not born in Canada. 300,000 of them are post-secondary students. Over 120 languages are spoken on the campus of the University of British Columbia.
The religious background is varied. On a road often referred to as the “Highway to Heaven” in the suburb of Richmond, I saw a Buddhist temple, a Muslim mosque, a Sikh temple, a Christian church, a Mennonite church, and several others that I had never heard of. Less than 6 percent of the population identify themselves as Christian. The vast majority would identify themselves as having no religious heritage or preference.
That is hard for us to imagine here in the buckle of the Bible Belt. We would also find it hard to imagine that, of the 80 churches in the West Coast Baptist Association of British Columbia, only 10 of them own a building. The rest are meeting in apartment complexes, hotel banquet rooms, store fronts, basements… wherever they can find a place.
Why do they bother? Because there are so many who live in that beautiful place who need to know the Author of beauty. It is the same reason that we have churches here.
When we only recognize beauty, but not its Source, we are much the poorer for it. And in that poverty, we focus on preferences and comparisons. My life, your life, every life matters to God.
He created beautiful things. He created the whole concept of beauty.
Ain’t it purty?
Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association headquartered in Decatur.