Advent Day 27 - Friday, December 22

Sometimes during my devotions, I see myself as a small grain of sand among the 108.2 billion other human grains of sand born throughout human history. I visualize my small sandy self in a woodland streambed, on a sunny beach, or in a desert sand dune. Once situated in one of those sandy places, I meditate on the characteristics of God: Immortal, Almighty, Creator, Eternal, Omnipotent, Holy, the I AM. I marvel how God (like a high-resolution satellite imagining system that, when fed my street address, shows me pulling weeds in my backyard) choses to “zoom in” on the small grain of sand that is me. Scripture says that God knows me inside and out (Psalm 139), even to the number of hairs on my head (Matthew 10:30). I cannot comprehend why or how a God-so-big would notice me-so-small among the billions of other smalls around me. In his book Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity, David Blatner claims our human perspective is so limited that we “can’t handle the biggitude” of our physical universe. Well, my mind is completely boggled by the “biggitude” of God and the “smallitude” of me!

Dr. Gary Greenberg, a visual artist and scientist, added new dimensions to my sandy/big/small meditation. In his TED Talk “The Beautiful Nano Details of Our World,” he explains the “magical world behind reality” uncovered through 3D microscopy. He developed photographs of magnified grains of ordinary sand, beach sands from the Great Lakes to Maui, and out-of-this-world moon sand. His photographs revealed “big beauty in tiny things.” Every grain of sand is different; no two are alike, Greenberg explained. “Every grain is coming from somewhere and going somewhere—a snapshot in time.” The take-away lesson from these tiny magnified jewels? “Things even as ordinary as a grain of sand can be truly extraordinary if you look closely and if you look from a different and new point of view.”

Thanks to Greenberg, my sand grain meditation changed. No more blah, uniform sand grains. Now I see a kaleidoscope of tiny shapes, patterns, and colors that is a metaphor for humanity. Each human grain of sand is different; no two are alike. Each of us, in our brief flash of life, is “coming from somewhere and going somewhere—a snapshot in time.” God, The-One-Who-Looks-Closely, zooms in, seeing right through our sinful graininess to “the magical world behind reality” revealing “big beauty in tiny things.” And in an amazing burst of love, God became small like us—small enough to be conceived in a young woman’s womb and born in a manger so we can be “truly extraordinary.” Praised be the Biggitude of our God!

Joan Bacon