Much of what we do in life stems from our state of mind and how we view the world. I have found that the further I get from God-made to man-crafted to industrial, assembly-line or technologically-made, the further I seem to get from reality and the source of joy.
When we first bought our house it was designed mostly for people who didn’t want to have too much to do with the outdoor world. The windows were small and only cranked half way open, there was a propane furnace to heat, air-conditioning to cool, the windows were closed all the time and there were drapes over them. I’m not finding fault but that wasn’t the ideal my husband and I dreamed of for our family. So over long painstaking efforts we enlarged the windows, put in a wood stove, put in real wood in place of the fake stuff, took out all the rugs and put in laminate (not exactly ”real” wood but it looks like it and works much better with lots of kids and keeps us healthier), we built porches, designed and dug a large garden, planted fruit trees and grapes and various fruiting vines, erected out-buildings for various animals and feed supplies, and generally made this place more natural and conducive to natural reality. In other words…where ever you look, when ever you touch something, you tend to see and fee natural substances. Why? Because we have found that being surrounded by plastic, imitation wood, and metals tends to leave us feeling sterile. Natural substances are organic and though they do break down over time, though they age, harden or soften, and basically change with seasons and temperatures still they are worth the effort of maintaining because they give us a more “real” world in which to live.
I know…I am not consistent…frankly I am currently typing on a computer which I am very glad is not made out of wood! I use many things made out of plastic and metals and I am grateful for their invention and their proper use, but there is a definite struggle between the expedience of plastic goods and their derivatives and things that are much closer to their origins. Strangely enough, I feel more stewardship orientated toward natural substances than I do toward plastic goods. I know I should treat everything as a gift, no matter what form, shape, or origin but I am very detached from plastic…I don’t bate an eye if a piece of Tupperware cracks but I feel something when a piece of pottery breaks. I’m sure there are many out there who’ll say I am a bit cracked myself for feeling anything for an inanimate object…but perhaps it is because the closer I get to what God made…the earth and all its natural bounty….the more inclined I am to remember HIM and the further I get from His creation…the further I put HIM from my mind.
When I watch some of the new big movies recently I am stuck my this reality over and over. Because technology has gotten so good we can now create worlds that were unimaginable just a few years ago and such kingdoms like in The Lord of the Rings can be bright to visual life. Yet a part of me fears that when I watch my kids watching a screen they are not in touch with real any more. Someone out there is sure to ask with echoes going all the way back to Pontius Pilate “What is real?” “What is truth?”
I don’t have the answer…but I know that God does…and frankly being as weak and forgetful as I am, I need every bit of help I can find in being reminded of HIM. I tend to remember HIM more when I am working the soil to grow zucchini, tending a flock of chicks, reading a books made of paper to a small child, wiping down a wooden table, admiring a hand crafted piece of pottery, or simply watching a sunset from my front porch. It is in those moments that I tend to remember better where I come from and who I am in relation to all this goodness…which is mine only for a season. I do not “own” it…I am a caretaker of the gifts handed on to me from Someone capable of that level of creative goodness…gifts that are here today and will decompose and become something else tomorrow…another thought I need to keep in mind.
In the story The Velveteen Rabbit, a child’s book that has lasted through time to become a classic…”real” you might say…it says something about what makes a mere toy become real and it has more to do with love than substance. As the skin horse explains “real” to the rabbit, “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because when you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” But it is the love that goes beyond the physical where we have eyes not of the flesh but of the spirit, to see with, hearts not made of stone to feel with, and minds not of wires but made in the image of God.