What Marvelous Love


“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.”

1 John 3 “The Message”

All we really know are the clues.

That, and the wonder that they can be left with such marvelous love.

The painter leaving clues here is Arthur Wesley Dow.

The marvelous love can be seen in the way God guided his hand to fill the space on this canvas with beauty.

What marvelous love in the way the colors blend to form one world. And give us one common sky.

That common sky is a clue.

What kind of exhaling of the trials of a life took place in the homes in the foreground?

How long had the folks who lived in those homes known each other?

How many days and how many times had they looked out their windows. Saw a neighbor walking down to the swampy bay. Stopped and face to face, looking in each others eyes, got the story—and then both laughed in the common love of knowing that no one person knows the full story of whatever tiny moment of today’s pain is front and center. Laughed together to cook up some drama. But then paused, and looked up as pinpricks of pain faded in a blink in the marvelous love of that one common sky.

No one child of God knows who God is or what he’s up to.

Where had those boats been? What kind of foreign lands? What were the stories that the people from the houses told when they came back from their journeys?

What were the songs running through their minds as they pulled the boats up from the swamps and trudged up to the lights of the homes?

“The water is wide
I can not cross over
And neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat
That can carry two
And both shall row
My love and I”

Did they see their songs as answered prayers?

Do the clues the artist leave help us make peace with all we don’t see?

Because the world has no idea who God is or what he’s up to.

In knowing we never know all of it—are even the most calcified expressions of religious beliefs accepted? If Jesus walked the dusty Afghanistan roads of death, could he really be a Chaplain in the Taliban Army?

Were the four sides of Abraham’s tent really left open so his children could enter from any side blown in by the same hot desert wind?

Are the curdling blood screams of bodies trying to stand up tall given rest? Is fear of the other stilled? When all we have to hang on to are clues?

Can we find serenity under the unified sky?

So that the marvelous love can soothe even the most savage of pains.

In better times, my wife and I would be driving through endless green fields under a great lakes sky in the empty middle of the Door County Peninsula. We’d come to a cornfield waving crossroads. Every single direction would look exactly the same. And then we’d turn to each other and say,

“All we know for sure is that we know nothing.”

Then we’d just pick a direction and drive.

And in driving through the fields, I remember the sky.

Like the unified sky the artist left us in the painting. The clue from the artist.

What marvelous love.

One Response to “What Marvelous Love”

  1. Dale Says:

    In all the crossroads we reach, whether the different ways are marked by sameness or stark differences, we know nothing of which path to choose, for the future remains hidden to us. But we can know this: to be open to whatever path we set on, to the wonders of the world, and to the fragility and humanity of each other: the stories, as you say. Even if we only get parts of the stories and must gropingly guess at what lies beneath. The common sky is the sky that embraces us and encompasses us, the sky of our shared humanity, with its joys and pain, the sky of spirit experiencing life.

    I like the way you emerge from your own home to yoke your own experience, telling (part of) your own story to the painting.

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