When I sit in my living room, in my favorite chair, and look out of the window, I can see the stand of tall pine trees behind my house — I can watch them sway almost imperceptibly in a gentle breeze, as the late afternoon sun begins to paint their upper branches . . . until I become entranced. I can’t explain why this moves me the way it does, bringing me such a sense of well-being – I just know that it does. I do know however, that the older I get, the more acutely attuned to the simpler pleasures I become – the very details of which, I undoubtedly raced passed in my youth.
As the eyes of a kid in a candy store grow wider with the seemingly infinite possibilities, he becomes filled with the reckless desire to have far more than he can hold – when even a starving man is more possessed of need than desire . . . the child is natively drawn into desiring more than his need requires. But an unconstrained desire for anything other than God can only lead us into various permutations of addiction. This is likely why our youth is often ill spent in chasing after our passions — first one thing and then another.
Even our desire to love and be loved can become distorted and pulled into the undertow of diminishing returns, creating in us an insatiable need to control the outcome . . . of how love will serve our desire. So we become more preoccupied with conforming love to our agenda than with allowing love to change us. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul makes the case for love’s preeminence – not as something held hostage to our every whim, but as something with the transformative power to change the way we see everything else . . . bringing proportion to what we value.
By design, love isn’t meant to pool up and become stagnant, but rather, it is meant to cascade over the edges of your life spilling on to everything in your life, until you begin to understand it all as a sacred blessing. In this way, everything and everyone appear as changed, no longer to be known as ordinary, but appreciated within the full economy of creation, because God has spoken all things into existence. This is the alchemy that love brings – God changing us to the point where everything we see appears to us as being changed, as well.
This dynamic is most obvious to me while playing with my grandchildren, or enjoying comfort food my wife is expert at preparing. But I am learning to detect it in the less obvious details of my life, learning to find God’s fingerprints hiding in plain sight. As I learn to look for all of these rare and ponderous moments awaiting discovery in my every day, God is reshaping me, reshaping my heart and mind to more readily find his presence . . . so don’t mind me – I’m just watching God’s hand swaying in the pines.
The line “the alchemy that love brings” was taken from this song I wrote for my daughter’s wedding . . . which happened just this past weekend!