Saturday, January 15, 2011

Glimpses of the Peaceable Kingdom

"Several winters ago my wife and I and our then twenty-year-old daughter, Sharmy, went to that great tourist extravaganza near Orlando, Florida, called Sea World. There is a lot of hoopla to it -- crowds of people, loud music, Mickey Mouse T-shirts, and so on, but the main attraction makes it all worthwhile. It takes place in a huge tank of crystal clear, turquoise water with a platform projecting out into it from the far side and on the platform several pretty young women and handsome young men in bathing suits who run things. It was a gorgeous day when we were there, with bright Florida sunlight reflecting in the shimmering water and a cloudless blue sky over our head. The bleachers where we sat were packed."
Can you picture it? You can. I love the way this man writes.
"The way the show began was that at a given signal they released into the tank five or six killer whales, as we call them (it would be interesting to know what they call us), and no creatures under heaven could have looked less killerlike as they went racing around and around in circles. What with the dazzle of sky and sun, the beautiful young people on the platform, the soft southern air, and the crowds all around us watching the performance with a delight matched only by what seemed the delight of the performing whales, it was as if the whole creation -- men and women and beasts and sun and water and earth and sky, and for all I know, God himself -- was caught up in one great, jubilant dance of unimaginable beauty. And then, right in the midst of it, I was astonished to find that my eyes were filled with tears."
Love that line about what the killer whales call us. Ha!

Discovering that his experience was by no means unique, Buechner continues:
"...I believe there is no mystery about why we shed tears. We shed tears because we had caught a glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom, and it had almost broken our hearts. For a few moments we had seen Eden and been part of the great dance that goes on at the heart of creation. We shed tears because we were given a glimpse of the way life was created to be and is not.

"The world is full of darkness, but what I think we caught sight of in that tourist trap in Orlando, Florida, of all places, was that at the heart of darkness -- whoever would have believed it? -- there is joy unimaginable."

Fredrick Buechner, The Longing for Home, pp. 126-127
Question: Where have you caught glimpses of the Peaceable Kingdom?

1 comment:

Scott Fields said...

This must be the case . . . else how would we know joy at all, or recognize the value of it?

- Scott