My children have two grandmothers. This is, of course, not remotely surprising. It is funny, however, just how different they are. Even the way my children distinguish them is a bit amusing. They both go by “grandma,” but my mom is “grandma with the pool” and my wife’s is “grandma with the goat.” If you knew you, you would probably think those names are pretty decent summaries.
However, the unique identifiers of my kids grandmas aren’t really the point of this post. I mention them because they both have brought a similar thought to mind recently. See, both my mom and my wife’s have certain, well, idiosyncratic loves. For my mom, it is violin music. It hardly matters where it came from or what it is. If violins are prominent, she enjoys it. This even applies to the violin dubstep you find in Lindsey Stirling (e.g. this work of art). Somehow it even applies to video game music, like covers of Skyrim or Zelda melodies. The details hardly matter. My mom loves the particular beauty of the violin. Even if she doesn’t realize why she likes a piece of music, she may at some point realize it’s because there’s a good violin part.
My mother-in-law has a similar and much more prominent fixation. She loves purple. On anything. All the time, if she talks my wife about something she saw or bought, or shows it to her, she figures out from my wife that its purple color was the appeal. Whether it’s a shirt or a mug or a pen, the mere presence of purple makes it delightful. Wherever she sees purple, she sees beauty. Even when she doesn’t notice that’s why.
Now, I don’t write this post to simply pick on the grandmas in my family. Instead, I want to reflect on this kind of idiosyncratic love. Many of us may laugh at it, but is it all that silly? I would like to entertain the notion that it’s not silly at all, actually. Instead, it might just be wiser than the discernment of connoisseurs.
See, here, as in so many things, the doctrine of creation is key. God made all things, as all Christians confess. But sometimes we forget just how much “all things” includes. “All things” is everything. That includes the color purple and the sound a violin makes. It even includes purple violins, if those exist.
Moreover, God created everything with a reason. Purple and violins aren’t just accidents. They didn’t show up merely as a byproduct of the way God threw the rest of the world together. Rather, every last atom and photon are God’s intentional design. God chose to make a world where you can find the royal brilliance of purple. God chose to make sound waves function so that violins make beautiful music.
The point I want to highlight is that every last crevice of creation is God’s revelation of Himself. God made the world to be a theater of His glory, as Calvin put it. As Calvin said elsewhere, “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” Every violet reflection and every stringed note is a message from God to us about His own beauty.
To think this way is to say that, if someone really loves purple, or someone is enchanted by the sound of every violin, it’s not a bug. It’s a feature. God made us to find and delight in every aspect of His glory. That includes purple mugs and Lindsey Stirling songs. All beauty is a picture of His own. When we develop a love for one aspect of it, whether a color or a sound or a place or anything else, we give special attention to one small but infinitely valuable expression of God’s own being, seeing Him in a way perhaps few others ever will. We find a nook in the being of God that seems specially carved for us to sit and enjoy.
To a certain extent, this reminds me of a G. K. Chesterton quote: “There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.” He’s right, because every subject is something God crafted from His own wisdom and creativity. We’re not all built to see God’s beauty equally in everything, but we can all learn from each other that it truly is everywhere. God is the Beautiful, the Good, and the True. Whatever we love for itself, we love as a tiny picture of Love Himself.
Of course, this is also the tragedy of love for the unrepentant. Such people love the pictures but reject the reality. They gaze at God’s light in the purple flower but flee from His light more personally revealed. They hearken to His melody on Spotify but close their ears to the melody of redemption. This ingratitude is the worst offense. We accept a tiny piece of God and try to cut if off from the whole Creator. This is folly, and it is no wonder we die in the process.
The better response, of course, is to remember the Creator of purple violins. Even their human artificers are working on His borrowing brilliance. He is the Alpha and the Omega; from Him and for Him and to Him are all things. And our chief end is to glorify and enjoy Him forever. Including the little facet of Him revealed in just one color of the spectrum.