Why do the leaves turn gold, orange, red, and purple in the fall? Spare the biological explanation involving chlorophyll. Why does the slow end of the food-making process of trees create a kind of beauty I can’t describe, that I can only try (feebly) to capture? The leaves are dying and as their life wanes, unspeakable beauty is the inexplicable byproduct and I want to know why.

Alaska is almost entirely unexplored wilderness. There are a couple inhabited population centers and lots of tiny villages sprinkled across the huge expanse of land and down southeast and the Aleutian chain. But mostly? Vast emptiness.

And beauty.


Why is there beauty that’s unseen? Why does the Lord create new sunsets all over the world from scratch every day, some of which are unseen by anyone but Himself? Why is there beauty at all?

It feels wasteful. Extravagant. Walls papered with hundred-dollar bills. Diamonds set in the mortar between bricks. Gold-paved roads.

Wait. Streets paved with gold?

This is exactly the kind of God I serve, throwing beauty around like so much candy at a parade.

For His own joy and glory and out of an overflow of His own beauty, it is everywhere.

This world is stressing me out right now. Racism, both “out there” and in me. Refugees getting anything but refuge. Rapists wielding power, not just over victims, but nations. There are people dying of cancer, starvation, preventable illness, addiction. Children are abused by people who should protect them. Churches shut out people Jesus came to save. Human beings are bought and sold in unthinkable numbers to do unthinkable things.

I won’t say it’s worse than it’s ever been—there really is nothing new under the sun. But I hear so much and my highly-sensitive, empathic self can hardly function in the face of it sometimes. I’m tired, tired, tired of God’s patience. It will all be made new, but when? How long will the suffering and brokenness persist? Justice is hardly what I want—justice would be very, very bad for me—but I want it all set right. “Come Lord Jesus” has been the heart-cry of the saints since He left. A cursory glance through Revelation shows me I have no idea what His coming would entail, and a lot of it is terrifying, but just the same… I need him to come and “make all the sad things come untrue.” Patience is less my forte than His, apparently. I don’t doubt His ability to act on all the ridiculousness going on, and I don’t doubt His goodness—He will make it right—but I’m not good at waiting for the power and the love to show up and FIX IT JESUS.

But in the face of all the broken and wrong and evil, He puts beauty everywhere. He points me to Himself with it, even when everything seems to have hit the fan. This is part of why looking for beauty is a coping mechanism of mine. I need to focus my eyes on what is lovely and my heart on what is true. And the truth? He will make and is making all things new. Beauty reminds me.

So, yes. He throws beauty everywhere, and I’m convinced that the great majority of it is unwitnessed. Wasted, if you like. But even that waste is really only indicative of His great abundance. He has so much beauty and creativity that some of it gets used to turn dying plant matter into masterpieces.

This post is part of my series, 31 days of speaking the truth. You can find the whole list of them here on the first post of the series.

Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a part-time writer, editor, and birth photographer and a full-time imperfect mama, wife, Jesus follower, and normalizer of failure. She’s trying hard to learn how to do this motherhood thing in a way that doesn’t land the whole family in intensive therapy. She has a heart for helping other mamas buried in the little years with hope, humor, and solidarity. You can find her hiding out in the bathroom with an iced dirty chai, writing and editing and making spreadsheets for KindredMom.com where she is a cheerleader for mamas, or online looking for grace in her mundane and weird life. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her four delightful (crazy) kids—some homeschooled, some public schooled, some too young for school at all—and her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

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    1. Right? I think it’s the chokecherries that turn this dark plum color. They aren’t indigenous (we have birch and Aspen and that’s basically it for deciduous trees) but they’re one of the more common ones people plant in their yard.

      Liked by 1 person

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