From All Things New
As a boy I loved all things new – a new book, a new bike, new cowboy boots; new lunch box, pocketknife, haircut, friend. Most adults love the “newness” of something new – the smell of a new car, the carpet in a new house. A new song, a new set of your favorite gear, new shoes (clearly Imelda’s love was the newness of those shoes; she only wore them once, if at all). “New year, new you,” goes the marketing every January. We all long for a fresh start in a new world.
And you shall have it. For God does not destroy the Earth nor his beloved creation; he makes everything brand spanking new. Oh, the wonder of it!
I was walking in a grove of aspens yesterday evening. They are such beautiful, elegant trees – long white trunks, white as snow, grow upward fifty feet and more before the leaves crown the tops. I love the smoothness of the trunks, bending slightly here and there as they reach upward; there is something about their form that reminds me of the beauty of a woman’s body.
At this time of year the leaves are golden, and the late sunlight coming through a forest of aspens turns golden as it passes through the canopy. A soft breeze was blowing, and the yellow leaves were fluttering gently down all around me, falling softly like flower petals. It felt like some Heavenly benediction. Tall evergreens – spruces – were scattered in the grove of aspens, and the golden leaves caught on their green boughs and made them look like they were decked out for some holiday – like there was a grand party in the forest the night before.
Here among hundreds of living pillars of white crowned with gold, I understand why the Celts believed in the sacred groves. Just to place my hand on the smoothness of a trunk and feel its coolness and the life within, that is a healing act. The forest of white columns could have been a sanctuary from Heaven or Lothlorien – the elven kingdom of Middle Earth.
When his eyes were in turn uncovered, Frodo looked up and caught his breath. They were standing in an open space. To the left stood a great mound, covered with a sward of grass as green as Spring-time in the Elder Days. Upon it, as a double crown, grew two circles of trees: the outer had bark of snowy white, and were leafless but beautiful in their shapely nakedness; the inner were mallorn-trees of great height, still arrayed in pale gold.
The others cast themselves down upon the fragrant grass, but Frodo stood awhile still lost in wonder. It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever.
He turned and saw that Sam was now standing beside him, looking round with a puzzled expression, and rubbing his eyes as if he was not sure that he was awake. “It’s sunlight and bright day, right enough,” he said. “I thought that Elves were all for moon and stars: but this is more elvish than anything I ever heard tell of. I feel as if I was inside a song, if you take my meaning.” (The Lord of the Rings)
Yes – all this shall be ours, a breathtaking world waiting right outside our door when all the Earth is restored to its full glory. The return of Jesus may come with the trumpet blast, but what musical score will accompany the restoration of all things? Will it begin quietly, a single oboe, piercing and beautiful and poetic? Will it swell and crescendo to a mighty orchestra?
Perhaps you have walked by a pond or mountain lake and seen in it the reflection of the trees, meadows, and mountains, dappled, shifting, like an impressionist painting. Then you look up and see the real thing, the substance of it, the clear, shining reality of it all. It is not something “other,” and yet it is more real, more true to itself. What do the fjords of Norway look like when they are completely unveiled? What of the Andes or the waters of the South Pacific? English painter Lilias Trotter burst into tears when she first saw the Alps, overcome by their beauty; will we weep or shout or stand speechless when we see them reborn?
Oh yes, we will recover wonder.
Stasi and I honeymooned in Yosemite National Park. We had never been in that majestic valley before, and we arrived late into the night, after a long drive, collapsing into bed with no idea whatsoever the cathedrals that rose all around us, the valley John Muir described as “extremely rugged, with its main features on the grandest scale in height and depth. Benevolent, solemn, fateful, pervaded with divine light, every landscape glows like a countenance hallowed in eternal repose, pulsing with the heartbeats of God.” I woke in the morning a little groggy and stepped out the back door to have a stretch; thundering down thousands of feet before me roared Yosemite Falls. All I could do was yell, “Stasi! Stasi! Get out here!”
What will waterfalls be like in the New Earth? What of the giant sequoias or tender wildflowers? What will rain be like? And think of your special places; imagine what it will be like to see them in their glory. How sweet it will be to revisit treasured nooks and vistas, gardens and swimming holes again, see them as they truly “are,” unveiled, everything God meant them to be. Part of what makes the wonder so precious is that while it is a “new” world, it is our world, the world dearest to our hearts, romance at its best.