I woke early, as I often do, but instead of turning over and going back to sleep, I brought tea and laptop onto the back porch to watch the dawn come. The light has a particular quality these mid-summer morning.Perhaps because there’s so much foliage everywhere, the light has a peculiar greenish tint to it. High in the west, sunlight frosts the tips of clouds in a color like rich vanilla ice cream. Birds begin to wake; the neighborhood owl is talking itself to sleep.
How great thou art. Verses from old church songs come to me at times like this. Yes, I know the multiplicity of a summer dawn proves evolution and science as much as it proves the existence of God, but the old songs come unbidden.
C.K. Chesterton, the English writer, said he believed in Christianity primarily because of the Trinity. Only God could have come up with something so complex that a person couldn’t make sense of it no matter which way you looked at it, he said. But then again, Chesterton was renown for turning ideas on their heads. I particularly like this description of him: “Chesterton had a tendency to forget where he was supposed to be going and miss the train that was supposed to take him there.” A man after my own heart.
So what does that have to do with dawn and God? Not much except to note the difficulty of proving belief in something that happens all the time without much help from humans by a woman who has the same tendency to forget where she is going and miss the vehicle that will take her there be it a train or a thought.
Neither Aristotle, whom I’ve studied, or Aquinas, who rewrote Aristotle, manage to prove God’s existence any more than a casual glance at dawn can do. We can talk ourselves into a circle proving God when, quite frankly, that-which-we-call-God probably doesn’t need proof and doesn’t care much one way or another how we believe. Only other humans believe. And so, in trying to prove God, we take a train that even Chesterton avoided. Being an apologist is not the same as being a prover.
Sunlight has found the house across the backyard, spreading a band of sunlight on a wall right at eye level, and the clouds have climbed higher in the sky. They’re darkening and race each other to the east. As they arrive overhead, the birds grow quiet, and the air chills. A splatter of raindrops fall. Living is such a gift. I would not have known this sudden brief chill had I not come outside to sit quietly this morning and watch a band of sunlight across the yard and dark clouds overhead.
But then, there’s a downside to sitting on the porch and watching morning come: too easy to see all that needs doing. For the past forty-five minutes, in between musing quietly, watching the dark clouds over head – which have since moved – and now, I’ve cleaned out the rose beds and fed the roses, sprayed non-chemical spray on the stems of squash hoping to deter the borers who like to eat their way inside said stems, tied up the lily stalks, heavy and fragrant with bloom, because the heads are too full of themselves for their slender leg to hold upright, tucked errant tomato arms, full of flowers and oh so ready to make babies, back into their cage, and harvested asparagus.
And God laughed.