Fathom Mag

Swept Off My Feet by the Creator

Sometimes the creator grabs me by the collar.

Published on:
September 23, 2019
Read time:
3 min.
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Everyone worships something, the old saying goes. If I’m not intentional about laying my heart and hands open before God, I instinctually begin worshiping something else. Too often, this something else is my own self: my comfort, plans, ideas, feelings.

Luckily for us, creation is full of powerful forces, ready to sweep us off our feet—sometimes literally. Something deep within us thirsts to gaze in awe at someone far more powerful than we can grasp, to settle deeply into the knowledge that we are a speck, vulnerable in every way. To resume a more modest and humble place in our world. To worship with wonder.

If I’m honest, the power and glory elude me most days.

If I’m honest, the power and glory elude me most days. I’m fighting a cold, my kids woke me in the middle of the night, the deadlines are looming, the schedule is packed. I’m too busy focusing on the next step to see the big picture. Ceaseless responsibility is a fact of life, the reminder (in one pocket) that we are made of dust and ashes, lest we consider ourselves more highly than we ought.

Then again, sometimes the creator grabs me by the collar.

That’s what’s happening today, on a summertime hike through the woods. Each step unravels me a bit from my tightly wound litany of concerns, providing an opportunity to slow down and notice the world around me.  

Here in the middle of the forest, I’m struck by the scope of life, of scale and size. Gnats and flies barrage me, nearly driving me back to my overheated car. These insects, so expertly distracting and bothersome, have a life span utterly fleeting and insignificant compared to my own. Many of the creatures buzzing around my face will live for a matter of days. Some will last a few months, perhaps a few years. They are born, reach adulthood, reproduce, decline, and die—just as I will. But in a comparatively minuscule period of time.

Swatting at these gnats and mosquitoes, I walk through a civilization of trees whose life spans by contrast dwarf my own. Nearly every trunk I pass is already older than I will ever be, yet most are still in their adolescence. These species have an average life expectancy of two hundred to four hundred years. Compared to them, I must seem as frantic and frenetic as the flies tangling their wings in my hair. Juxtaposed with the steadfast swaying of these powerful branches, my own life appears so hurried and worried, so needlessly anxious and conflicted, so fleeting and immaterial.

I interact with this triumvirate of bugs, forests, and myself almost daily at home, but today I am traveling, hiking in the mountains.

I interact with this triumvirate of bugs, forests, and myself almost daily at home, but today I am traveling, hiking in the mountains. These massive rock formations are new to me, but they have stood firm for a thousand generations, imposing and strong while countless worried, anxious people lived out their pains and pleasures among their peaks and valleys. Yet even these seemingly timeless rocks have grown and changed, groaning and shifting under the weight of pressures I cannot begin to comprehend, in the imperceptible but steady process of thousands and millions of years.

I lift my face to the sky and take it all in: the spider crawling up my leg, branches towering over my head, rocky mountain crags sheltering and imposing. Mere hundreds of light-years away, the stars hang low in the sky.

It strikes me as significant that I am always standing on these rocks, walking on this earth, living under these vast stars—yet I almost never realize it or grasp the wonder of it all. Only here in the mountains, where the ground rises up and towers over me, do I see the foundation always supporting me. Only when I can see the ground in front of my face do I awaken from my stupor and see eternity.

I’m grateful for this chance to worship, to be startled awake by all I can never touch, comprehend, or control. In receiving this powerful view of creation, my eyes rest finally on the creator, who somehow joins me in the minutiae of my days while dancing in the grandness of infinity.

Catherine McNiel
Catherine McNiel is a writer and speaker who seeks to open eyes to God’s creative, redemptive work in each day—while caring for three kids, two jobs, and one enormous garden. Catherine's first book, Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline, was an ECPA finalist for New Author. Her second book is All Shall be Well: Awakening to God’s Presence in His Messy, Abundant World. She’s on the lookout for wisdom, beauty, and iced coffee.

Cover photo by Sebastian Unrau.

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