Retreat, Day four: framing creation – longing for heaven

From my diary…

Finally began to sketch view with the thought of going over it in ink.

Pohutakawa are a nightmare of detail and I stuffed up the dimensions of the bridge barrier behind the flax. 

God creates by fiat.  We labour with wrong turns and misplaced strokes to employ our creativity.  It’s hard work!  The more like God we aspire to be the greater the effort we must put in.  And were it not for his Spirit, gathering all our labours into himself, it would all be useless!  I believe Tolkien got it right with "Leaf by Niggle."

Had another go and inked in top branches and flax stems.  Result is very pleasing.  Stopped, read Isaiah 35.

Continued by inking in background.  Now it’s just a mess.

Five o’clock.  The picture now has enough foreground that the background doesn’t much matter.  Time to cook tea!

Am thinking a lot about going home and also the things I want to do first.  [Am thinking a lot about heaven!  – especially the delight it will be to meet Lewis personally – and Tolkien!  But also thinking about things to finish first..]  Its not so important to finish my picture – it was a pleasure for today and it’s sufficiently well done that it stands for itself, but also it was only ever a brief appreciation of the far greater art of God.

Time for an evening service and a book.  Jones’ ‘Art of Prayer’?

Evening service very moving.  The psalm was 104 – the praise of creation.  I didn’t twig then, but when it got to the prayers of thanksgiving my first thought was just that the day had been so good – it seemed to me that God was pleased with me for enjoying this day with him.  And when I said ‘thank you’ for the where-withal to wash the windows – to frame the view – it came to me again that God is pleased with my enjoyment of his creation.  All this time he has been touching me with his creation.  He has been speaking to me constantly and I have been too deaf to hear.  Only now do I begin to understand.

The evening collect read:

Loving Creator of all

Watch over us this night

and keep us in the light of your presence.

May our praise continually blend

with the song of all creation

until we come to those eternal joys

which you promise in your love;

through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Amen

 There could have been no better way to summarise all I have been contemplating these last few days.  God’s goodness and Mercy are extraordinarily more than I can believe them to be.  It cannot be coincidence that this prayer (on a weekly rotation) and that psalm (on a monthly rotation) should be set for the day on which I become conscious of the links between the desire for heaven and the love of creation and the way we stand between both with praise in our mouths.  That which I have laboured at today, the ‘framing’ of God’s creation for the purpose of praise, is a life-long work.  It is the whole of life!

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