for the love which from our birth over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
- From the United Methodist Hymnal, No. 92, Verse 1
Music by Conrad Kocher, Arranged by W.H. Monk
Lyrics by Folliot S. Pierpoint
Looking at that beautiful picture of rural Switzerland when the lush greenery shows so well in warm weather, the words of that beautiful hymn came to mind. It is a hymn that we sing frequently in our little country church and it is such a beautiful way to say thank you to our loving and gracious God, the provider of all that we have. It's particularly appropriate to use such a place as is pictured with those words, for the Swiss are masterful at keeping things beautiful and almost pristine as they develop the limited land they have which are suitable for development. Oh, it's not heaven on earth, for if you've ever driven on those narrow mountain roads you know that to those inexperienced it is a harrowing ride. They do, however, have quite a knack for keeping as much of their land scenic no matter what they do.
Take the architecture, for instance. They blend the old with the new in a way that shows continuity and maintaining tradition. And as the cities and towns get older, they usually renovate instead of demolishing and even then they design a new building that complements the old. You notice it clearly when you visit and it gives native character and style letting you know that you are in a one of a kind land. Sprawl for the sake of sprawl is not in their approach.
We Americans are sometimes just too lazy and so driven sometimes by the dollar that our cities take on a ho hum quality of one size fits all. Places that I frequented as a boy today often have no resemblance to their glorious past and frequently end up as old and eyesore buildings where the beauty of the old could have been astounding. I guess it's just my old fashioned way of looking at things, but when I go to to a place where they have celebrated their past in action rather than turn it into a cookie cutter city with the boring appearance that comes with it, the result is awesome to the eye.
It also applies to our countryside, where we so often destroy the beauty rather than use it in a way that the beauty is renewed. If we just put our mind to it, there is no doubt that the American capacity of ingenuity could do it in a way that is both affordable and aesthetic to the eye. Any nation that can win seemingly unwinnable world wars, send astronauts to the moon and can become the leader in the world of innovation and production can do anything she wants to do. There just has to be the desire, the incentive and the spirit.
Call me a dreamer, I guess, but most good things originate with dreams and a belief in something greater than we are and don't you think our loving God would look down on us with a smile and a nod if we thought that way and acted accordingly? After all, it would be for the beauty of the earth, our planet home for our temporary time here that He created for us with beauty. The use of proper dominion in His way would certainly be a blessing to us all.