“A moment afterwards, he was walking in the garden, surrendering mind and soul to dreamy contemplation of these grand and mysterious works of God, which night makes visible to the eye.”
The bishop’s walks in his garden provide the mental picture that I need to resolve the dialectic problem in my life between being and doing – between contemplation and action. However, in previous readings, I do not remember identifying this subtle truth in the last words of the quote above. It is only in the night that we can see the planets, stars, comets, and asteroids. The bishop seems quite trusting, but if it were me, I would feel threatened by the convict’s comments, and would fear for my life. In this uncertainty and anxiety, it becomes possible to see eternal mysterious works of God that are not visible when up-close bright and happy circumstances enthrall my attention, and peaceful sleep keeps me unconscious for a full eight hours.
C.S. Lewis from the Problem of Pain: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, butshouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Problems are indeed real opportunities because we learn something from them. When something goes wrong in my work or when my life is threatened by poor health, it is a chance to learn about the mechanics of the process and see who my friends are. And when the lights go out, there is opportunity to appreciate what the night makes visible – even God Himself.
What about this contemplation of God’s works? I can relate in a crooked sense. When I create something that I feel is worthy, I will relish it with pride and satisfaction. I will mull it over in my mind and expose my senses to it again and again. Instead of prideful indulgence, I should indulge myself in what matters. God Himself is for me! He has made me righteous, and freely given to me power and privilege. I am forgiven and no longer have to fear His wrath. It is a fresh new day, and my responsibilities are now wonderful opportunities.