This Too is Beautiful

I spent this last week in Helsinki, Finland for the 2012 Luther Congress.  The Congress meets once every five years.  It was an exceptional experience that allowed me to see old friends, meet new, and learn how much I have to learn.

My family and I were in Helsinki for about six hours on our way to St. Petersburg five or six years ago.  It was a delight to spend more time in this beautiful Nordic city.  One of the memories from our previous trip was a visit to the RockChurch.  Take a look at it at  Fortunately, I had time on my last day to make a pilgrimage to this site.  It really is one of the most astounding churches I have ever visited.  The blend of rock, natural light, a copper roof, and well planned site lines make it a church that preaches that God has made the world good.  This is truly a beautiful church.

As you can imagine, such a church attracts tourists.  I arrived there shortly before the church opened.  Soon busses arrived.  The quiet tranquil atmosphere changed as smart phones, cameras and tablets began their busy work of capturing the moment.  As I sat there, I wondered how many pictures there are of this church in the digital universe.  My mind reeled at the thought, and then I wondered why people take pictures of such places.  I remember a professor once telling a class that tourists take pictures in a vain attempt to “capture” what cannot be captured.  I used to think he was right

But as I sat and watched the tourists from all around the world snapping away, I began to question this professorial wisdom.  I noticed how much people smiled while taking pictures, and while having their picture taken.  They really seemed to enjoy the experience of being together in this place.  Taking photographs is a way to be together.  Every now and then I ask tourists who are taking pictures of one another if they would like me to take one of them together with their camera.  They always say yes, and I always smile while I participate in their joy of being together.  This too is beautiful.  This too is to be celebrated.  Maybe you too have experiences of such unexpected beauty; such experiences of grace upon grace.


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