Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. (Exodus 31:2-3)
Relate: Right now I’m wearing a pair of jeans, a plain black hat, and a Besiktas athletic club jersey. My point isn’t to gloat that I’m walking around in a light T-shirt while all my friends back in NY have been buried in snow this past week. It isn’t a segway into a discussion of Turkish League Football. Honestly, I couldn’t get very far. While I wear Besiktas colors, my real football team is Real Madrid. I know, I know, you Americans are all grumbling, “That’s not real football.” OK. I will admit I love American football too. A few times each season I do manage to download a NY game so I can watch Bradley Wright Philips, Sasha Kljestan, Luis Robles, and my NY Red Bulls dominate the regular season only to disappoint early in the playoffs… again. But I digress. Or perhaps not. My intended point was to demonstrate that I am more of a casual, informal type of guy. Even as I start writing today it is so easy to get carried away talking about sports because it is so much more easy for me to enjoy something like that than to go to an opera house that I might watch something more like this…
Even though something like this might not necessarily be my cup of tea, you do have to admit that there is a certain beauty to be found here. Granted, watching it on a portion of the small screen on my computer with the poor pixelation youtube gives me thanks to my mediocre internet capabilities does take something away from the experience. Can you imagine being there? Could you place yourself inside some building built with the money of a Rockefeller or Carnegie listening live with thousands of other enraptured souls?
In the same way, even clicking on the image to the right here can only bring up an image a couple mp in size. But imagine walking along a gallery filled with works of art like this done by masters throughout the ages. Imagine being almost close enough to touch some of the greatest achievements of some of the most talented individuals to ever walk the face of this earth. There is something about a place like that, going where thousands of others down through the ages have gone to admire works like this that makes the appreciation so much greater.
One of the things I miss being in Gaziantep rather than Istanbul is the opportunity I had there to go anytime I wanted into the Church of Holy Wisdom, the Hagia Sophia. I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy but that is not a jeans and t-shirt sort of place. When you do you might notice that the Turkish ministry of culture deliberately tries to make it look old and run down. They want to make a contrast for tourists between the still beautiful and well kept up (and relevant) Blue Mosque with this ancient and decrepit from the past church. Even still, the first time and every time I walk into that huge, beautiful, magnificent sanctuary I just have to pause.
I have never been to Saint Peters in Rome or the Notre Dame in Paris but both are high on my bucket list. There is something about the beauty of a place like that that just takes your breath away. I have been inside some of the best that New York has offered (like Saint Patrick’s Cathedral) as well as the ancient splendor of early churches like the Hagia Sophia as well as Saint Nikolaus’ Cathedral in Demre (yes… that is the real Santa Claus I am talking about) so I can only imagine what some of the most beautiful architecture created from a time when building a building was not just a project but an act of worship would be like. When the greatest musicians and artists and architects turn their massive resources immense abilities toward the task of glorifying God… how can it not lift your soul?
React: Maybe you’re a bit holier than I am but for me, the past few days of reading through the book of Exodus and the making of the various items for the Tabernacle has been drudgery. Moses has been going into detail of how everything has been made and as little as I’d like to admit it, for me it has just been a lot of words on a page. I’m reading it because it is the right thing to do, but really… yawn.
Now as I’m closing up that book I have to stop and think. Bezalel is the guy who is responsible for making all these things. He was filled with the Spirit of God specifically for the task. Did you get that? He is filled with the Spirit specifically to be an artist. Even more, he is the first person mentioned in the Bible who is filled with the Spirit. It wasn’t a patriarch like Abraham, a prophet like Moses, a world leader like Joseph, or a priest like Aaron. It wasn’t Noah who floated his global stock while the rest of the world was liquidated or Enoch who walked with God all the way to heaven. It wasn’t Isaac, the child of promise and it wasn’t Jacob, who gave his name to the people of God. The first person in the Bible to be filled with the Spirit was an artist. When God wanted His people to grasp His holiness, He gifted someone with the ability to reveal beauty.
I’ve looked out from the top of some of the highest peaks in New York and walked through the Taurus Mountains in Turkey. Some of the vistas this affords are a reflection of the holiness of God. I’ve watched the sun set into the gorge while halfway up a 300 cliff at Letchworth State Park. That is one of the most beautiful things my eyes have ever seen and it is a reflection of the holiness of God. I’ve looked out an airplane window to watch the sun rise and set into two different layers of clouds. That is a reflection of the holiness of God. I’ve felt the grasp of a newborn baby, seen the snow all settled in Thomas Kincade fashion on to the trees in the morning, and listened to a cricket on a blade of grass. I cannot everyday take a trip to the Louvre and I can no longer spend many Saturdays writing from inside the Hagia Sophia. That is OK. Every day there is beauty all around me. Am I willing to stop and pause, see it for what its worth, and say, “Holy to the Lord”?
You are so beautiful. Thank You for leaving a reflection of Yourself in brief moments and quiet spaces all around me for me to find. Help me to live in the moment. Help me to be aware. Help me to catch those spaces and reflect my praises back to You with every moment, and every breath, today and in all of my days.