Alex Beukers | Wonder
I’m Alex, a second year studying English at Merton. Oxford is the most eclectic place I’ve ever been, and so besides spending (not enough) time reading, I like to do a range of things outside my degree – especially when those things are in cafes and pubs!
Despite the hype, there’s a lot of the mundane here in Oxford. The things that initially amazed us in this city can get forgotten in the humdrum of daily life…and who has time to think about meaning and purpose when you feel like you’re living deadline-to-deadline? Too often, I’m guilty of losing my sense of wonder.
Yet I find that routine can be broken by moments of beauty in everyday life. Whether it’s an astonishing piece of poetry, college in the moments of early morning, or time well spent with people we just connect with, beauty is there – if only glimpsed. What seems even more remarkable is the nature of our tendency towards beauty at all. What’s the reason behind us finding things beautiful? That, to me, speaks volumes about human nature, and shows me deeply that there must be something more.
I find that the Bible has a lot to say about beauty. It shows us that these beautiful moments, however small, aren’t accidental. It says of God: ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Christians believe that the beauty we perceive in our world, and our desire to share and praise it, is because it reflects the God that made it all. For me, this quotation also sums up the tension we feel– that we can experience things that overwhelm us with their beauty now, and yet our yearning is still left unsatisfied.
There is something magnificently beautiful in the story of Jesus. It’s so amazing that it’s hard to imagine: the idea that an infinitely powerful God took on human form, reached out and met us in our broken, painful, human experience. Jesus’ beauty, in qualities of gentleness, kindness, and complete mercy, pervades the Gospels – the books that tell of his life on earth. I think the most beautiful part is that Jesus loves us so much as to want us to be in relationship with him. Even in the ugliness of our world, or the ugliness in ourselves, Jesus accepts us – he wants to know and love us. He even prays to his Father about it, in John 17:24,
‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.’
I’m constantly in wonder at how the Bible makes sense of our world: even in its brokenness, God’s beauty shines through. Most wonderful of all is the very fact that, now, it’s only a glimpse. Although now we see in part, in time we’ll see in full: beauty that is everlasting, and far more deserving of our wonder, and our praise.