I grew up in the Lutheran Church. As a child, I spent many Sunday mornings looking around the church and noticing many details about it. Although the Bible inspires the physical trapping of worship, as I edited my recent photos from the botanical gardens, I couldn’t help but wonder how much nature also inspired it. The bee in the above picture so reminded me of the organist who creates beautiful music with both their hands and their feet.
And who thought empty tubes would create the music of a pipe organ? Was it knocking a stick against the neck of an empty beer bottle or was it the inspiration of seeing a paper wasp nest stretching up that made the artist realize that music could be made with pipes that reached up to the sky?
And what inspired stained glass windows? Did someone just wake up one day and say hmm, wouldn’t it be nice to have the sunlight come through colored glass? Or did they notice that when the light shone through a plant leaf in just the right way, it lit up and made a beautiful design, something that soothed the soul and made the mind rejoice in beauty?
What about the liturgical colors? They’re not Biblical, but they do mark the changing of the church year. Purple is used for Advent and Lent, rose for the third Sunday in Advent and the fourth Sunday in Lent. Green is used most of the rest of the year. Green, the color of renewal, the color and lushness of nature.
What of parchment paper used in the old scrolls? I’m sure the existing paper technology was a big part of it, yet some of the old parchments are so thin! Yet, they preserved better than you would have expected. I’ve seen some of our old, old family Bibles. They’re not in great shape, but I’m amazed at how they still exist in my great-grandmother’s handwriting.
And when you think about the wings of an angel – how should they be? Big or small, bird-like or bat-like? I think large and elegant, sweeping back in a grand, bold way is the way they should be. I wonder where that inspiration comes from.
So even for those of you who aren’t church-goers, I hope you enjoyed the garden tour and wondering along with me, whether the great churches and cathedrals didn’t find their inspirations in both the written Bible and in the visual bounty of God’s nature.
And God saw all that he made, and it was very good.