I will be the first to confess that my artistic skills are rather lacking. Despite this bereavement, as a young child I had a yearning to draw well. Not all yearnings are fulfilled, however. All too often my feeble strokes would end in a tangled mess of poor proportions, unsteady hands, and good intentions. As my eyes would view the artistic wretch that lay before me, despair would worm into my heart. My vision and skill were far too limited to replicate the image I wanted to convey. The image (most likely a Naboo Starfighter, their sleek design always caught my eye) was too large and complicated for my ability.
Rather than give in to my woeful lack of ability, I turned to another method. I enlisted the aid of a book. By pressing a piece of paper against the bold lines of my Phantom Menace coloring book, I could trace the shape of the Naboo Starfighter onto my blank page. Suddenly fleets of brave Naboo flooded my pages, battling unnumbered armies of Trade Federation ships. The strength of the lines of my coloring book helped guide my hand to create more ships in the original’s image. The power of the original image seeped through the blank canvas and created a pattern to follow. I would like to propose a way of looking at the world. I propose that truth, like the bold lines of my coloring book, bleeds through the pages of reality in the form of symbolism and metaphors. The raw physical reality we inhabit is an intensely symbolic one.
The Creator who made the universe exhibits order. Every ambitious fruit fly that torments us, every forgotten comma, every discolored baseball cap reflects to us the truth of the universe. If all of creation is coherent, then all of creation reflects truth. The bold lines of Truth bleed through physical reality. The order of a tree can tell us metaphors of the order of the universe. The charge could be leveled against me that I am making a great deal out of little things, but as Chesterton declares in his work Tremendous Trifles, “If anyone says that I am making mountains out of molehills, I confess with pride that it is so. I can imagine no more successful and productive form of manufacture than that of making mountains out of molehills.”
Every action we take is rooted in who we are. Our actions reflect our soul. Our souls do not exist in a vacuum. When I don a shirt, I don it as only Luke does, with specific motions and thoughts unique to myself. Everything that comes out of me demonstrates who I am. Just as a thrown pebble will send forth tumultuous, ever expanding and influencing ripples in a body of water, so does our character effect the world around us. The ferocity, agility, and deftness with which I turn a doorknob is entirely dependent on my character. I have often wondered if with enough study and perception, someone’s character could be determined by how they turn a doorknob. Regardless, while our will is exerted on the universe around us, we can also state that the opposite is true. The will of our surroundings has a startling effect on our personal will. The patterns and rituals we go through every day will change and effect us just as we change and effect those around us. The way we shower, the way we burn toast, and the way we greet people sets patterns in our mind which will shape our character. By making mountains out of molehills, we can train our emotions to deal with reality. Just as a muscle must be trained to react properly to certain circumstances, so must our emotions be trained to react properly to our circumstances. When a rotting carcass of roadkill is fed upon by vultures, the revulsion we experience can help train us to deal with other horrific realities. Rejoicing in the beauty of a powerful carol can help train us to rejoice in other demonstrations of beauty. We can regulate our emotions by experiencing them through the constant display of deeper truths we see in the patterns of reality. Thus our reaction to a bird in flight has deep consequences for our character. We must examine and emotionally respond to what is around us.
There is, perhaps, another reason to examine the small patterns of Truth that surround us. I have a suspicion that they are not nearly as small as I have suggested. Perhaps the carrion bird perched on an unfortunate squirrel doesn’t need us to project a powerful meaning onto him. After all, molehills are truly mountains to those who are small enough to notice them. When we experience anguish or joy at the felling of a gnarled tree, we could be weeping at the death of a dryad, or rejoicing in the freeing of an Ariel. Reality doesn’t need us to give drama to it, it is fraught with passion. It is our duty to marvel in creation. The bold lines of God’s Truth penetrate the pages of our experience. Let us grasp our pencils and feebly trace the boundaries of this Truth. Let us consider the lily so we may know how to live.