A Moment in Infinite Time
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11
The oddest little things can make my heart and spirit suddenly soar, beyond what I would have thought possible. This morning, I heard a bird singing outside my front door, a pure loud sweet outpouring, so I went to see this marvel. I pictured some beautiful creature as colorful as its song, but it wasn't there. All I could see was a plain brown little bird, hardly larger than a sparrow and even less prepossessing in appearance. Then it opened its little beak, and the world was once again filled with the song of an angel.
The line from Ecclesiastes immediately popped into my head: He has made everything beautiful in its time. But the beauty “in its time” was not the little bird; it was my appreciation of it. The bird was there and filled with radiant beauty all the time; it was only for the moment of hearing its song that I was able to perceive the beauty. God gave me the moment of song, so restricted in time and place, that I might know something was there all along; I just had not been able to perceive it.
Even more so, I was surely the only human alive who heard this specific song. As an act of human appreciation, at least, the song was sung for me and me alone. The bird no doubt had other ideas; still, I felt singled out for a tiny bit of magnificent beauty.
Then I noticed something. Little motions in the shrubs and trees. Something briefly overhead. The static-looking bit of ordinary suburban landscape around me hid uncountable worlds of life; all I had to do was see it, hear it, smell it. This is God at work, for I realized, it was not by my effort that I found the beauty. I did not go to it — it came to me. I was sitting at my computer when the song intruded into my isolation, when the ordinary humdrum landscape decided to call me.
We are not meant to see everything. “God has set the world in [our] heart,” so that none of us can know all of it. But an infinitesimal small part of the beauty in the world is beyond infinity in what it gives us. If we see a star in the evening sky, we know there are a hundred billion stars in a hundred billion galaxies. God calls us to know His bounty by a single instance.
And so, the Holy Spirit is infinitely great, and God’s mercies number greater than the stars. We are not allowed to actually see or know them all, in either space or time; in fact, our time and space are minuscule, a few dozen years and a few hundred feet among trillions. But we are given more than we need. If we are called, if we are open to hearing and seeing and knowing, God will call us in holiness in our tiny time and space, as surely as the little bird called to me in beauty.
Lord God, thank you for your personal contact with me. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer