A Vision from the Hilltop
“We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance. We believe that it proceeds from God's free will; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness: ‘For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created’(Rev.4:11). Therefore, the Psalmist exclaims: ‘O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom, you have made them all’ (Ps 104:24); and ‘The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made’” (CCC 295).
This past week my extended family made the trip to Lake Tahoe. Among other things, we made the hike up to Eagle Lake. At the halfway point up the hike—a good 400 feet above Lake Tahoe, I turned around to behold an extraordinary sight: the water beyond the water; the pine trees beyond the pine trees; the rock beyond the rock. My eyes beheld the overwhelming beauty that is Lake Tahoe and all the interconnectedness of the pristine blue water, towering pine trees, and massive rock.
It was then I sensed God inviting me to contemplate the deeper meaning of this encounter with God’s creation. Saint Thomas Aquinas once said, “all wisdom begins with a vision from the hilltop.” In principle, once you have access to higher ground, you now have a broader vision that allows you to see one aspect of creation in the light of the whole.
In the spiritual life, wisdom is a taste, an inclination of how one thing belongs to the whole of something else. Consequently, the wise person gains insight into the way things ought to be understood—not as a concurrence of events that have no perceptible connection, but as a series of interlocking events that are bound by God’s sovereign care. God, in his providential love, will use whatever it takes to bring about the greater good for our salvation. Whether it be an unsuspecting encounter with another person, event in your life, sickness, or holiday trip, no one thing should ever be viewed as independent from God’s larger plan. There was never a moment in the life of Christ where he looked at a situation and said: “that’s a coincidence.”
As Father, God invites us to contemplate the meaning beyond the meaning, that we might discover His providential love in the many hills and valleys of our everyday life (encounters, events, sicknesses and holiday trips).
As I look back on my time in Lake Tahoe, it was clear to me that God used creation—His first love letter to man, to inspire within me a deeper sense of what Saint Thomas Aquinas intended to mean when he said, “all wisdom begins with a vision from the hilltop.” And I am forever grateful for it, and hopefully all the wiser!