Seek ye first

by Andrea Elizabeth

In the quotes I’ve previously provided, as well as ones I haven’t, The Universe as Signs and Symbols by St. Nicholai Velimirovich instructs us on reading our natural environment in a spiritual way. This takes work when one is not constantly possessing a sense of God’s presence nor feeling thankful for everything as a gift. There is also the question of whether a thing should be appreciated in its own right. For me it is easier to remember God when outside in nature. In the city, surrounded by concrete, I feel oppressed, but can be reminded by looking up at the sky which people haven’t yet managed to obliterate entirely. There are certain artistic fabrications that I manage to enjoy in the city, but should one be as thankful for them as direct gifts from God as one is a tree? First let me say that there is a question about whether we have to look for symbolism in a tree. Trees can possess a majesty of form that makes one say, “What a tree!” Is it sinful to stop there? One can look at a tree and appreciate it’s creator as one appreciates an artist, which is also a second step in art appreciation. But to look at a tree in a spiritual context, such as seeing the method of Christ’s crucifixion and thus our redemption, is a third step. A cross attains a certain beauty when seen in that light. But what about an unhewn tree? Ah, the tree of life. Yes a means of God’s provision for food, and beyond that communion. Also it is a picture of strength and shelter. To appreciate it’s beauty for itself, and not what one gets from it, not even the enjoyment of beauty, seems nice, but again, should we stop there? Shouldn’t we see that God (should probably say the Trinity or at least Christ as the Trinity revealed) must be beautiful beyond compare?

Back to fabricated, man-made things, especially things not made by hand but machine: I don’t think anything can be totally depraved, but things can be corrupted. One could seek the beauty of the original ingredients, or the similitude to traditional things like a door, which has symbolism, and get back on the above track. There’s probably a chapter on these man-made things that I’ve either forgotten or not gotten to yet.

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