El rocío que brilla en la montaña
no ha podido decir a mi alma extraña
lo que el llanto al bañar una pestaña.
I know what you’re thinking. Uhh… Justin…. this isn’t Spanish class.
I know, I know. But, stay with me.
Today at Redeemer, Mike spoke about glorifying God in our academic work (along with many other great things – like Jesus dying for our sins! Yeah, you missed out on a good one). To some, this seems like a foreign idea; How the heck could you glorify Jesus while trying to figure out bromination? How does the trachea relate to glorifying God?
To me, glorifying God goes hand in hand with learning. I’m studying Speech and Language Pathology and, just in learning about the ways our brains organize language, or the ways in which we are so advanced that we are able to communicate through the delicate and complex movement of our larynx, tongue and lips, I can whole-heartedly say that we were divinely and magnificently created. It truly is amazing.
Whoa, Justin. Too much science. Stop it.
Okay. Fine. Does Spanish work?
The quote I’ve posted translates to this:
The dew that sparkles in the hills
has failed to say to my strange soul
what tears can tell as they bathe an eyelash.
It is from Julián del Casal’s poem “En el campo.” I had to read the poem for my Spanish class and I was deeply moved by most of it, but, in particular, this stanza. Del Casal is a writer of Modernismo – a literary movement that sought to reconcile the soul with modernity in the late-nineteenth/early-eighteenth century.
This stanza cut so deep and reminded me of a few moments I had spent atop a hill in the Ohio River Valley during my high school years. I write about it here.
Back in those days, I used to drive around aimlessly, just seeking to escape. One day, I came across a field full of wild flowers and grass that reached my knees. This field sat on a beautiful hill that overlooked the Ohio River, stretching east to west. It was beautiful. This is a picture of the scene and here’s what I had to say about it in my blog post mentioned above:
it was beautiful, the way the sky burned, as if it were trying to hold on to the sun for just a few more minutes. you could see its effort – the pinks stretched and the oranges folded into the clouds. the trees ‘cross the river held a strangely vibrant hue. it was beautiful.
What the stanza from del Casal’s poem reminds me of, though, is that beauty apart from God is nothing. What is beauty apart from God but just the activation of neurons stimulating your occipital lobe and giving you a sensory experience? I’m serious. How can you appreciate creation without knowing the Creator? Beauty cannot help us make sense of our hurting; it can only distract us.
Only Jesus can “say to [our] strange soul[s] / what tears can tell as they bathe an eyelash.” Only through Jesus are we able to understand this world. He is everything. We are nothing apart from Him. Beauty is nothing apart from Him.