The Beautiful, The Ordinary, and The Ugly in a Fallen World

“Nevertheless, beauty no longer adorns the whole earth. On the contrary, we discover alongside each other the beautiful, the ordinary, and the ugly. A lion is beautiful; a calf is ordinary; a rat is ugly. The same holds for the plant kingdom. The cedar enthralls us with beauty, the willow strikes us as ordinary, and the thistle turns us off… You find this same threefold categorization not only among plants and animals, but even among nonorganic nature. Some mountain ranges inspire worship. Then there are very ordinary humpbacked mountains that you scarcely notice as you walk past them. There are wild rock crevasses so barren and awful that they arouse an involuntary shudder; these are real specimens of the “formless and void” that once existed. Similarly you find next to the lushness of nature in one region the bare flatness of another region, and next to that terrain you find the barrenness of heath and desert. This is true of the atmosphere as well. Some days you enjoy the kind of sky and weather that make you smile and lift your spirit to the heights, followed by other days that are rather ordinary, when it does not rain and the sun and moon make their appearance. Then you face the days when the stormy winds splash the rain against you and the walkway underfoot becomes impassable. In those three phases the activity of common grace swings restlessly back and forth in terms of the beauty of nature.
Repeatedly God shows you and gives you a sense of what your lot on earth would be, and how ugly the world would be, if the curse had been carried out to its ultimate conclusion. And then God lets you behold an exhilarating natural phenomenon that makes you homesick for paradise. Then you sink again back into the ordinary where nothing excites you or repulses you, but instead where everything around you lacks any vitality and chills your enthusiasm.” -Abraham Kuyper
BTW NOTE: As an “ordinary means of grace” Presbyterian minister, I know I’m ‘in the tank’ on this, but I would not make the absolute contrast between “the beautiful” and “the ordinary” that Kuyper does here. But I think I can still see what he is getting at.
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