... in tiny details

Published on 29 Dec 2020
Lichen on trees in a forest in winter

A few years ago I was speaking to someone about my faith and mentioned God 'the Creator'. This caused some confusion, I had to backtrack and explain that I wasn't a Creationist, because all too often people assume that belief in the Creation equals a lack of understanding or belief in scientific discoveries. 

Even so, sometimes the metaphor of God as a kind of sculptor or painter can be helpful. When I think of the mountains and the clouds, I think of broad brush strokes, like the beginnings of a painting by Turner. Actually, the film "Mr Turner" by Mike Lee has a fascinating and funny scene showing how he adds a tiny spot to a painting at the very end (after it has been hung in fact) which turns the painting from something good, to something truly brilliant. I find God's hand at work in the broad brushstrokes, the mountains, the coastlines, the seas, the forests. 

But I also find God at work in the tiny things. This morning as I walked to work, I saw some tiny birds who were fluttering down, almost as though falling from the sky, spiralling down towards me at speed, and then flew off. This particular sight is unusual in central London, and yet even the city is, in fact, filled with the tiny birds... And as I walked through the park, the small spikes of daffodils and other spring flowers are beginning to poke their way out from the cold winter soil, despite the fact that it is still cold and dark much of the time. Recently on a walk in a forest in the depth of the winter, I marvelled at the lichen growing on fallen branches and on the tree trunks covered with lichen. Even in the winter when there was little green growth, there was life all over the woodland. If you look closely at lichen it is a marvellous thing.

When I was a child I used to sit with my head almost in our garden pond watching the tiny pond snails and tadpoles. Sometimes I remember this and wonder why I didn't become a naturalist or a botanist, but that's another story. However, in all these tiny signs – and signs tinier still which can't be seen with the naked eye – I find an image of God who is capable of painting in broad brushstrokes, while also honing tiny details. I sense God's love for us in the joy he takes in the tiny things.