“This is useless. This is gratuitous. This is wonder.” –Evan Koons
When we consider the full realm of Christian stewardship, our minds immediately turn to areas like business, finance, ministry, the arts, education, and so on — the places where we “get things done.”
But while each of these is indeed an important area of focus, for the Christian, stewardship also involves creating the space to stop and simply behold our God. Yes, we are called to be active and diligent and fruitful in acts of service and discipleship, but at the core, what is driving the work of our hands? Do we take the time to simply delight in our God, to behold the beauty of his creation, to reflect on his goodness, to fear him deeply and profoundly, to open our hearts and eyes and ears to the whispers of the Holy Spirit?
In For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, they call this space the Economy of Wonder, and over at the FLOW blog, Evan Koons has been leaning on heavyweights like Peter Kreeft and Hans Urs von Balthasar to remind us of its importance. In a society where everything is weighed and rewarded and justified according to its pragmatic use, how do we relish in God’s divine mystery?
One possible answer? Get useless:
There’s a bigger picture. There’s more to the story than what we do and create. Maybe understanding God’s Economy of Wonder and living it out starts with beholding the master of the universe and his unwarranted, gratuitous gift of everything that exists…
Take time away from the busyness. Create a space to show up to God with nothing — with just you. Put aside all your achievements, all your failures, all your lists of to-dos from the week, your smartphones, your emails, your fears, your worries. Put them aside and abide in the presence of God. Create a space where you invite God’s presence seeking no gain, no knowledge, no wisdom, no nothing from him. Show up as the poetry you are, with the poetry of the entire universe all around you. Show up to the master poet, and behold him in silence. Dwell in that silence and rest. Be still.
All of this amplifies the bigger picture of our salvation and reorients our stewardship, not by locating some new long-run utility or a means toward greater efficiency (though that may happen!), but by fully unlocking the gifts that God has placed in each of us, connecting the predictable to God’s mystery, the material to the transcendent, our hearts and desires to the love of God.
“Love creates,” as Koons says. “Makes more — more goodness, more truth, more beauty. It begets more love.”
God has given us much that exists simply for our time and attention, and he gave it to us for a reason. Learning to work and rest within useless, gratuitous wonder means further understanding the full character of God and the shape and aim of his love, expanding our imaginations, stirring our hearts, refining our palates, and tuning our ears.
Being good stewards of this space will feel pretty useless, particularly in our age of shortcuts and convenience. And yet, despite the call of those competing pressures, priorities, and distractions — some worthier than others — the flourishing of all else depends on it.
For more on beauty and how our society has lost grasp of its importance, see the following clip from Episode 6 (narrative by Hans Urs von Balthasar):