Contentment, Wonder, Delight – Br. Curtis Almquist

Matthew 11:25-30

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In the calendar of the church we remember today Francis of Assisi, born in year 1182, the son of a prosperous merchant. Francis was a lost youth with too much freedom, too much money, and too much vanity to amount to anything. Against all probabilities he met Jesus in the face and form of beggars and lepers and experienced a 180 degree conversion in life. Before he turned 30, Francis had the Pope’s blessing and thousands of followers who also were looking to see and serve Jesus amongst the lowly – not just people, but in the whole of creation.

The world is an icon. What God has created is iconic, that is, we will see and sense the glory and majesty of God, the presence of God, through God’s creation. No one thing is God: no one person is God, nor a flower or leaf, nor a mountain or an ocean, nor an animal or bird. God is God, beyond our ability to “capture” in any one element of creation. But in every creature we find traces of the Creator, and the experience is absolutely amazing. St. Francis, in his poem, “The Canticle of the Sun,” spoke words of revelation and praise to God: through all your creatures… through Brother Sun, and Sister Moon and the stars and heavens… Brothers Wind and Air, clouds and storms; Sister Water and Brother Fire; through Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs….

Here’s a suggestion for you today. At some point, stop. Gaze at something God has created. Take in its shape and form, its color, its movement, its intricacies. It could be one of these elephantine sycamore trees along the drive in front of the Monastery, or a single bud on an autumnal flower; an animal or bird, shapely fruit or flowing water. Whatever. Gaze at something long enough until you can see through it to its source: God, so majestic and infinitely creative, and miraculously generous to share these traces of God’s glory with us.

Stop and gaze. You will experience three things, all quite counter-cultural:

  • Contentment: What you take in will be enough. Not a craving for something else, but a gratitude for what is. That’s contentment.
  • Wonder: Such majesty and magnificence we experience in God, if we will only be attentive. Life is wonderful, wonder-full.
  • Delight: Which is enjoying something so deeply that we are converted to joy. Delighting in creation.

Gaze at something until you can see through it the Creator. We call this “insight.” It will change your day, change your life, make a world of difference.

Blessed Francis of Assisi, whom we remember today.

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  1. Andrea McNair on September 19, 2022 at 02:35

    Thank you Br. Curtis for this reflection time this morning. I am smiling as the language of contentment, wonder and delight touches my soul afresh as I recall many walks and talks with God out in the beauty of creation around me. The words “gaze at something long enough until you can see through it to its source” resonate with me as often this experience described has brought me refreshment and joy……and praise to God. Amen.

  2. Dawn Browne on October 26, 2020 at 04:42

    Thank you for speaking of this stance that the whole of creation is full of small revelations of God. I once had an art teacher that said, ” Every artist signs their work just by doing it. ” God the Creator of all has also signed his work if we look gently and lovingly at it.

  3. -suzanne robinson on October 25, 2020 at 22:41

    Amen! Wherever I gaze, God IS. The Divine Abundance makes my heart mind and soul, sing out ~ All Praise
    to Thee O Lord Most High for having come so near. I can hardly drive uninterrupted down Rte 9 to Rte 1
    in Kennebunk toward Wells, for the shout out of color from the trees, or the stirring of the waters on the ponds
    by the winds of You Know Who! I am over taken by such ebullient joy that it begins deep in my being and
    literally finds it way to a smile and then I actually have to laugh out loud at so much beauty in one fell swoop.
    I am simply over-come by so much beauty overtaking my soul all at once. I simply want to lie down within
    the revelation that is occurring and allow it to seep deep within my being, remaining present to the miracle
    of Oneness at hand. Glory, Glory Glory to you Lord God~~~for sharing Thy Glory with us. We need YOU!

  4. Susan J Zimmerman on October 25, 2020 at 10:22

    …beauty of creation is just 1 (probably the most obvious) Absolute to gaze at Gods’ nature…think how many experiences of beauty one has…infinite? …

    …numbers…working for a financial institution one ‘gazes’ @ the magic of numbers…remember basic algebra?

    …sound(s) is another experience of Gods’ nature…there are infinite experiences of SOUND

    …natural LAW is another Absolute, which all of us experience all day long!

    …love…very interesting…some people Love Tacos!

    …Truth experiences are all infinite…how many experiences of Truth has there been?

    …Time…is a very Infinite experience!

    …another addition, since Genesis 1, is that within all these Absolutes there exist complimentary polar opposites…eg night/day time…+1 -1…woman/man…natural laws/religious/secular law…

    • Emma H Price on September 19, 2022 at 15:17

      This explication of icons of God is one of the best theologies I have read. Thank you, Susan.

  5. Harrison D Philbrick on October 25, 2020 at 08:53

    Br. Curtis,

    Thank you. I am reminded of this: An unknown man in Cumberland, England had this engraved on his tombstone: “The wonder of the world, the beauty, the power, the shape of things, their color, lights and shades, these I saw. Look ye also, while life lasts.”

  6. Fronie Beverley Squibb on October 24, 2020 at 14:51

    The world is an icon. Stop and gaze. Thank you for the poetry and truth in these wise words.

  7. Anna-Lisa J. on October 24, 2020 at 10:21

    Thank you, Br Curtis.

  8. Ruth West on October 9, 2014 at 17:15

    Thank you, Br. Curtis. How we need to be reminded every day to give thanks “to the only one who makes great wonders–God’s faithful love lasts forever!” Psalm 136 is overflowing with thanks and praise to the One who made it all.

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