Friday, August 20, 2010

Beautiful Sunsets

My family had a wonderful vacation in Hawaii - a week on the Big Island with 3 other families, then a week on Oahu visiting family and friends, learning to paddle surf and canoe, and basically eating a lot. While staying in Kona, we suspended dinner one evening to see 'the world's best sunset.' It did not disappoint. The photo on the left doesn't do it justice, by a long shot. But all the time looking at this breathtaking feat of nature, my mind kept wandering back to one of my favorite quotes, written by author Mike Mason in his book "The Mystery of Marriage":

“If man really is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset. Certainly that is why there is nothing in the New Testament about beautiful sunsets. The heart of biblical theology is a man hanging on a cross, not a breathtaking scene from nature. Nature (by comparison with the wonders of human relationships, healed and restored in Christ), touch only remotely on love. We cannot really ‘love’ a sunset; we can only love a person.”

What Mason reminds us is that people are the crown jewel of beauty. Surely all other forms of beauty can wow and astound us, and ultimately point us to God, but it is the human person who is solely created in God’s image and capable of confronting us with the presence of Christ in a way that even the greatest natural wonders or finest works of art can never do.

Not surprisingly, standing at the edge of the vast blue Pacific Ocean with the wind in my face and the orange glaze of the sunset in the horizon, the setting makes me a believer in God. But surprisingly, it simultaneously makes me a doubter in the loveliness of humanity as the loveliest of them all. Who can blame me in a moment such as this?

Until our family and friends step into the camera's focus in front of the Hawaiian sunset in all their glorious beauty.