...like other colonists, she found much of what she saw bewildering, even repulsive. She and her neighbours regarded the country as a monotonous wasteland to be dominated and transformed, and a good deal of her pioneering experience was mean drudgery and brutal disappointment... Her epiphany seems to have had its roots in tragedy. Deranged by the death of a child, her mind and her heart were rent open. During her long recovery she returned to botanising. She grew more confident, more passionate. She saw such flowers of the imagination that she was transformed.
To Georgiana the landscape often appeared oppressive and monotonous. The discipline of botany gave her a means by which to dominate and catalogue her unfamiliar surroundings: perhaps affording some illusion of control. Yet her botanical discipline seems to have presented her with little reason to delight in or celebrate the country that was shaping her. That is, until life circumstance forces upon her an attentiveness to her surroundings that begins to transform her.
It struck me that this is not altogether different from how some of us experience the reading of scripture. In some seasons of faith the scriptures can appear as a monotonous and sprawling horizon of text that lies largely unexplored before us. Perhaps we find some sense of achievement in attempting to catalogue it, but we rarely expect it to move or delight us. The otherness of the text can leave us feeling as if it hardly warrants further patient attention.
And yet, even that which at first appears monotonous and unpromising, can shape and transform us in unexpected ways. Humility and patience can beget an attentiveness to things we’d previously just trampled over.
It seems to me Winton’s closing reflection (below) is equally descriptive of what many patiently attentive readers of scripture have also experienced.
It takes humility and patience to see what truly lies before us. A different kind of seeing comes [...] to those who ‘stay longer and look with open hearts and minds’. We need not search merely in order to capture. Our fresh gaze yearns to understand, to bring knowledge inward - not just to catalogue it, but to celebrate what we encounter...
I'm Steve. Anglican Presbyter, Practical Theology Enthusiast, and Graphic Design Hobbyist in Sydney, Australia
Wills And Affections