For Lent this season, our friend Andrew Roycroft (pastor and poet from Northern Ireland) has adopted the medieval practice of writing thirty-three poems, each thirty-three ... Read More
I found a dead baby mouse on the bricks of our driveway. I picked it up and looked it over. It was so perfect, as if it were only sleeping. Tens of thousands of soft, little downy hairs lined its body, its muzzle covered in minute whiskers. Delicate little ears and fingers and toes. One of the sweetest little innocent babies of this world, and a true work of art. I contemplated how God could put such care and thought, even tenderness into his creations, only to allow them to fail.
Then I began to look around at all the creation in my reach. Tiny green sprouts growing into complex structures capable of reproduction, capable of completely overthrowing and eradicating other species if they were designed that way. So complex, each tender sapling growing into a hearty, wooded pillar, each intricate insect crawling within countless individual blades of grass, each one a work of art, and each one disposable.
My heart ached for this little dead mouse as I carried it to the field out back and laid it beneath the stalk of an ironweed. When I make my art, when I labor to conceive, compose and create it, it hurts when it fails. It hurts even more if I came close to completion and then it failed. And none of my drawings or paintings have ever breathed. None have ever utilized photosynthesis or reproduced on their own, thought their own thoughts or even thanked me for their creation. None told me they loved me.
That little mouse was absolutely a work of art created by an intelligence and a heart that of which I cannot conceive. It was beautiful, well designed, and to my eyes perfect. And God has been making them by the billions since the beginning of our time, each to exist in obedience to His Word, and to pass away without cause, never to be remembered again. Does it cause His heart to ache, as it did mine, to see that little mouse lying dead on the bricks of my driveway? It seems to me that He doesn’t get attached to each individual piece of His art. He’s capable of letting go. After all, nothing He has made, save our souls, is indestructible. All is ephemeral. All will pass away. All is disposable.
Yet, He still made it all. Even though He purposed that it all would pass, He made it. Even though it would hurt and suffer and fade away, He made it. With care and affection and attention to a billion different details, each one unique and flawless and functioning perfectly within a grand design, He made it.
Why would He make beautiful art that hurts Him? Maybe He takes more joy in the constant rebirth and newness than in the aging and ancient. No matter the reason, I cannot help asking myself: Could I repeatedly put my heart and soul into creating beautiful works of art if I knew that each one would last but a breath? If I knew each one would suffer through pain, heartache, misery and then death, could I still create art? What if no one were ever to appreciate a single one?
Like the countless creatures He has placed in the remote places of the world, each to take its first gasp of breath and then pass away with only His knowing, could I create that kind of art? I don’t know if I could, but our God clearly loves to design and to create, and He has created an overabundance of disposable beauty. And that thought alone makes Him unfathomably great and mighty in my eyes.