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Angle Lines: Beauty in the Bible
Written by Wilma Zalabak, M.Div.   
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 12:35


The fence posts have white caps. The car snuggles under a white blanket. It's been a quiet winter night in Wisconsin. The sunlight breaks over a quiet world. I cannot take my eyes from studying the fence posts with their white caps. Every cap is especially shaped and suited for its fence post. Some posts are round, some are triangular, some slant, some are fallen. Every post has a cap to suit. Every cap is perfectly symmetrical with its post.


I'm noticing trees as my mother and I drive through the summertime in Wisconsin. I remember doing this in the wintertime also, with the trees shorn of leaves and each proudly displaying the symmetry God gave to that individual. Every tree has its own symmetry that is captivatingly beautiful. If it stands alone in the field, it seems filled out quite symmentrically. If it stands among other trees its symmetry complements that of those around it. If it stands against a building or mountain, still it strikes me with its symmetry in its own setting. For awhile I believed symmetry was the primary element of beauty.


So I thought in terms of angle lines, a point at the top with the lines diverging toward the bottom. That does work even for dogwoods and bonsai, as I learned in flower arranging class. The diverging lines don't have to be totally delineated for the arrangement to look symmetrical and beautiful. All that is needed is the point and two strong suggestions of diverging lines, one on each side but one farther down than the other.


It was some time before I learned that the sunlight itself by God's design created the symmetry in the trees, drawing their branches and leaves to available light. This is why a tree struck by lightning or otherwise mutilated will in a few years look beautiful again with a new symmetry.


On my first nights camping in Colorado I'm listening the nighthawk's call. It's taken me several days to perceive that the call I hear comes from those incessantly darting birds. I think the nighthawk's wings in flight create such ever-changing angles and symmetry that I could watch them forever. They swoop close to me and utter that screech. Well, I guess I can hear the screech in angle terms, also, with a point in the middle where it turns back on itself and fades away. I'm getting used to the sound as just another part of this beautiful dusk in the mountains.


Since symmetry may have been one of my first observations of beauty in nature, I also find great joy in discovering symmetry in the Bible. Jokes and proverbs and parables all have in common the idea of symmetry. Symmetry helps their pacing to get the listeners ready, with intense anticipation, for the punch line. Some have two elements in antithesis (see Psalm 1, Proverbs 16:8-9; Matthew 24:44-51). Some have three elements in strong interrelation (see Proverbs 30:15-31; Matthew 25:14-30).


I will cite here four instances of this angle line structure, this symmetry, in the Bible.


Please look at Psalm 19.  There are three sections to this ancient hymn: God revealed in nature (v. 1-6), God revealed in His Word (v. 7-10), and God revealed in humans (v. 11-14). I can view any of those sections as the top point and then see the other two as defining the angle. It makes a beautiful picture whichever piece I put at the top. The picture of God revealing Godself.


The sectioning is revealed by changes in rhythm and texture. I notice the transverse lines and how they are different lengths in one section compared to another. I notice the texture created by the words and images, different in each section. By changes in rhythm (transverse lines) and texture (dots), I can identify the various sections of a hymn or poem. 


Now look at 1 Corinthians 13. I find three sections in this ancient poem: Love's pre-eminence (v. 1-3), Love's description (v. 4-8), Love's fruit and future (v. 9-13). If I see Love's pre-eminence as the top point, I can see description on one side and fruit and future on the other side, creating a beautiful symmentrical picture of love. It draws me not only into the picure to study it and remember it, but also into thinking in the ways of love.


I pray the "Lord's Prayer." Some call it the "Our Father." It's recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and has been translated and sung in many languages and many keys. The first section is adoration to God. The second section is human requests. The third section returns to the adoration of God in a new way. I think one of the reasons this prayer is so beloved all around the world is its beauty, its symmetry, it's simple angle lines in such a small space.


One more set of three demands mention here. In Revelation, there are many threes and you can see my chart of them here. Look at Revelation 14 and find three angels mentioned in verses 6-12. I'll summarize the message of each like this: Worship God (v. 6-7), False worship is dead (v. 8), Choose not to worship falsely (v. 9-12). For me, this set of three is fuller and more glorious than many others. It has captured my heart for weeks on end. The theme, the big picture, has connections with and gives new meaning to many other threes in the Bible. I will continue, maybe through eternity, to read Revelation for the beauty in it.


I tried to show you my joy in angle lines and in the beauty they yield in nature and the Bible. This is why I return day after day to the reading of the Bible. Next time: Arrow Lines. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 01:03
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