God, the Consummate Artist

Bryce Canyon, December 30

Sunrise begins as a faint graying on the horizon a little north of Navajo Mountain. Gradually a pinkish tinge grows below the inky blue of the sky overhead, and then a gold. In the bowl of the canyon, the tall, sculpted hoodoos begin to stand out as white smears against a dark background. As the sun tops the horizon and light creeps into the canyon bowl, the hoodoos become white and pink pillars against the red backdrop carved out of the dark plateau.

Finally, as sunlight fills the bowl, orange and white spires shaped over eons seem almost to glow from within.

In the face-numbing predawn cold, I have been moving to generate some warmth. But now, as sunlight brings alive the red and orange bands in the rock, it is impossible not to stand still and reflect that this spectacular light painting happens morning after morning, century after century, whether anyone is here to witness it or not. It is impossible not to believe that the Creator who set all of this in motion is a lover of beauty, and the consummate Artist.

I have had the opportunity to witness His handiwork in scenes like this from Monterey to Mongolia. It is inspiring to realize that these spectacles are at the same time integral parts of vibrant ecosystems that help sustain life on our planet and also vibrant works of beauty.

I am awed by our Father’s artistry in the delicate tracery of the veins in a leaf backlighted by morning sun; in the intricate patterns of frost on a windowpane or in windblown sand rippling across a dune; in the golden threads of a spider web caught at sunset; in the etching of jagged granite peaks against the sky in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho or in Mongolia’s Terelj National Park.

Once I stood on a cliff at Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in Europe, feeling melancholy because the Atlantic Ocean—that highway of exploration for the great Portuguese seafarers—stood as a 3,000-mile barrier between me and home. And then Heavenly Father snapped me out my loneliness by helping me focus on the display of beauty at my feet: surf crashing over the rocks below created delicate white lace-like patterns on top of the water, shifting and changing second by second, a never-ending display of magnificent artistry.

Creativity, I am sure, is a God-like trait, part of the divine inheritance we each bring from our heavenly home. Some people demur on that point, saying they are not creative, or that artistry was not one of their gifts, and yet inevitably they manifest the gift in some form. A young woman, for example, may find new and effective ways to teach her children truth. An experienced mechanic may solve a problem in some inventive, even ingenious way. Everyone has this divine gift of creativity.

In our Heavenly Father, the gift is refined to perfection. He is also the consummate scientist, able to design a cell that replicates itself or a celestial furnace perfectly positioned in our solar system to provide constant life-giving light and heat to a planet that is home to some of His mortal children. I am awed by the Supreme Intelligence that can accomplish this.

And yet this morning as I watch a new sunrise, I cannot help but express gratitude for another generous, loving offering of beauty.

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