I have heard it said that artists are people who know how to see. The next few weeks I will be exploring how artists see.
Romans 1:20 says that God’s invisible attributes can be clearly seen in the created world. So how about it? When you look at a landscape, do you see the works of God?
I want to suggest that if you see a beautiful landscape like the one presented here in terms of the things you can identify (the sunset, the mountains, the trees, the rocks, and the flowers), you aren’t really seeing the works of God at all because God did not create the language—man did.
The problem with seeing in terms of language is that we are “seeing” with the left side of the brain which is where all language function takes place. Some other things that the left side of the brain does is categorizes things and maintain order and schedules. So once the brain identifies an object, it determines if any further response is needed from us, and if not it categorizes the object as unimportant and is ready to move on to whatever is next on the schedule.
Let’s imagine that we are on a cross country hike when we come upon the lovely view from above. We would probably quickly exclaim over the beauty and then be ready to move on. It is so hard to really meditate on the beauty for more than a few seconds.
Why is that?
Why don’t most of us know how to quiet ourselves and really soak in the beauty?
It is because we have been conditioned to function with the left side of the brain in full control. In that first reaction when we came upon this view, the right side of the brain was trying to get control, but the left side of the brain determined that nothing we were seeing required any action on our part so it was time to move forward.
On the other hand, if there had been a charging wolf bounding across the field, the left side of the brain would categorized the wolf as dangerous and suggested we grab our guns or run like mad. What if the view included a flashing neon sign announcing, “EATS?” Since it is the end of the day the left side of the brain would quickly categorize that as something important enough for us to respond to, and we’d hoof it to the café and ignore the rest of the view. What if the view included a giant billboard announcing, “OUTLET MALL JUST AHEAD?” There again, the object (the billboard with its message) would capture our attention long enough to consider how we should respond.
In all of these cases, however, we are only “seeing” from the left side of the brain to identify the object and determine how it pertains to our own schedule. Everything that does not require a response from us gets pretty quickly ignored. In every case we were bound completely to the language of what we saw, and as I said earlier, the language is a construct of human beings – not God. So how do we get around the language and really see God in the natural world?
Next week I will explore that question.