Saw this in the garden on Saturday. The wonders it bespeaks are too many to mention. I could watch bees for days. Someone in the paper said that we need to put out water for them (40,000 trips for a bee to gather a litre of water), so we have. They are bobbing up and down on our white lavender, focused on the job in hand and being beautiful and industrious. And God cares for them and watches over them. Sometimes we just forget to look at different scales for God’s attention to detail. And what is often overlooked is that beauty is created by obvious “imperfections”. Amethyst gets its beautiful colour from iron or other transition metal substituions in the quartz crystal lattice. These distort the lattice causing different light wavelengths to be absorbed. None of this is possible without a degree of imperfection. I think we often feel that attention to detail has to be towards perfection. Natural forms, human beings and animals, are rarely perfect, and in these cases, perfection is hard to define. What would a perfect human look like, and would we want to meet them? Almost certainly not.
What this attention to detail does show is that imperfections and diversity flow from God’s creative goodness, and not chance. The fact that we find imperfections beautiful tells us this. However, what we easily forget in this attention to detail demonstrated by our Creator, is that we live and move and have our full being, under his care.
In 539 BC, Belshazzar, the co-regent of Babylon and a descendant of the great Nebuchadnezzar, had the most unnerving experience of his life when he saw a disembodied hand on the wall of his palace where he was mid-party. The biblical record in Daniel 5 has Belshazzar’s knees knocking in fear. As Daniel is called out of retirement to interpret the writing for Belshazzar, he references Nebuchadnezzar’s eventual obedience to God, and then says this:
22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.”
This we forget. We forget that we only live because we are given permission to. We breathe and live at the hand of God and for no other reason. All we do is known to the king: not just people like Daniel, who acknowledge him, but those like Belshazzar who turn and spit in his face and choose other gods to worship. I am not interested in the judgment that followed, because that is God’s business; I am interested in seeking to acknowledge a king who holds me, my family, all I love, the school I cherish, all our lives, in his hand. Not only that, but all we do – “all our ways” – where we live, move and have our being: all of this too is in the hand of God and of interest to him.
That sort of attention to detail is harder to live with, but nonetheless precious. When Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 6 that our heavenly father cares far more about a hair on our head than the sparrows of the field. this is what we are meant to realise. The sheer incredulity we show when we see insects doing their thing is a pointer to the wonder we are called to worship in at a consideration of the intimate care that our God demonstrates, minute by minute, to his beloved, created humanity.