Growing up in Colorado, I took the natural beauty of this place for granted; how could I not? I didn’t know anything else, except for California and Oregon, where I spent summers with family – places which are also full of dramatic landscapes.
It took moving to Debrecen, Hungary, the center of the “Puszta” (some what of a mix between a plain and a wasteland) for me to realize how much I long for natural beauty. When it came time for me to venture out from Debrecen to plant a church, it was a great gesture of love and grace on God’s part that he called me to Eger, in the north of Hungary, flanked by the Bükk mountains on one side and the Mátra range on the other. It is a region of waterfalls and forests, very different from the rest of the country.
Living in Colorado once again, this time I appreciate it more.
Why is it though, that we have this great longing for the grand landscapes?
According to C.S. Lewis, it is because we see in nature the grandeur of beauty and grace that we yearn for for ourselves.
Blaise Pascal spoke of this longing and explained it in this way: There’s something nostalgic and reminiscent in us, that longs to get back to the place from which we have come. And that is because we came from perfection and we were made for perfection. And that is why we have this sort of lingering memory of it, and therefore we long to return to that place where everything is as God intended it to be.
Here is what C.S. Lewis wrote about this in his book, The Weight of Glory:
“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words: to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.
That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves-that, though we cannot, yet these projections can, enjoy in themselves that beauty grace, and power of which Nature is the image. That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods. They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but it can’t. They tell us that ‘beauty born of murmuring sound’ will pass into a human face; but it won’t. Or not yet.
For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy.
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.”