“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
As we near the end of the fall season, the final resplendent leaves, hanging bravely still, show forth the artful hand of their Creator. We are rightly struck by their beauty, and we ought to be amazed. Were the world, as some rumor, the product of chance, a billion, billion atoms whirling and colliding, guided by no hand and no design but accident, we would not find such beauty. Were life only evolved in the awful struggle of kill or be killed, of natural-selection-guided genetic mutation, we would find scant loveliness.
But shining forth as proof of the Good Creator is the wonderful reality of beauty. Beauty is extravagant. It is, in general, functionally unnecessary. It is precisely that extra—beyond functionality—that makes beauty beautiful.
I pause, standing before the Japanese Maple tree in our back yard, pictured above, and I am stunned, enraptured by its simple beauty. A red so deep, so bright that I can barely absorb all the shades and tones that reflect in the late evening rays. I am moved. Moved to joy, to tears, to respect, to wonder, to worship. To praise the Mind that imagined such colors and such a process that would paint the forests of the world so brilliantly…every year!
Beauty is God’s handwriting. Emerson got that right. The presence of beauty, still so evident in our fallen world, speaks of him. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1) This world is stained by ugliness of human devising. Yet here beauty still bears clear witness to the hand of the Artist, the Sculptor, the Creator, the Lover. For it is his love that affords us beauty, that we might see it and know him through his handiwork. That seeing beauty we might wonder, in awe and praise him.
For all the skeptics in the world, the doubters, the agnostics and atheists, I offer a simple refutation, a wordless argument for the existence of God: that Japanese Maple in fall foliage. Beauty. Needless, wonderful, extravagant beauty. This beauty speaks not of the nameless, careless god of the Deist, but a good of passion, love, art and beauty, who calls himself Father.
I stand before the work of his hand and I sense the love that sent this tree my way, and I smile, the giddy, deeply satisfied smile, of a child embraced by his father, content and basking in the moment of an act so pure…so beautiful.
Author: Rev. Dr. Tom Hawkes