It is one of those unspoken rules of the modern household that in the same way that socks vanish gradually over time, teaspoons accumulate. We have an abundance of them in our kitchen – some inherited from op shops, some that came as part of our default cutlery set, some cheapies bought from the supermarket and intended to be eventually lost in office kitchens.
Thus you might imagine my surprise when I found myself taking an interest in one of them a few months ago.
I don’t know where it came from. It just appeared one day. And it was truly beautiful: the perfect weight, with smooth, rounded edges. The handle end was a delightful teardrop shape. The bowl of the spoon was neither too deep nor too shallow, too long nor too wide. The spoon shone in the light with its polished finish. In short, it was the perfect teaspoon.
Perhaps I need to get out more, but I have to tell you, I loved using that spoon once I discovered its existence. How could you not? It was a small moment of joy in the midst of the bleary waking-up routine each morning. And God’s kindnesses extend to even the mundane, so I thanked him for my teaspoon ex nihilo. That’s a joke for the theologians, I’m afraid…
And then one day, without warning, it was just a teaspoon. The aura was gone. It remains pleasing to the eye, but I no longer favour it.
Naturally, then, I knew I should report my findings to you. And that’s a pun for all of us – though it may take a read to the end of this to appreciate. In its simple teaspoonness, my little treasure was the perfect example of what God has given us in creation. It is a thing of beauty, to be admired, a reminder of God’s gracious creation
And yet, just as my reflection was distorted in the bowl of the spoon, it reminded me of how we humans have a tendency to worship the creation rather than the creator. While I was in no great danger of bowing down to my teaspoon – what would a teaspoon consider acceptable worship anyway? – it’s the same pattern for our idolatries. Some people admire the wilderness; others the sea. Some people live for holidays; others for work and career. Some people idolise relationships or sexual encounters; others live for complete independence. Wherever your tendencies lie, though, it remains true that your idol can never hold everything you might ascribe to it. My little teaspoon, I have to report, could contain no more than a teaspoonful.
Nature is awesome – literally. Or it should be. ‘For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer’ (1 Timothy 4:4-5). The Word tells us God has given us a good world to live in; our prayer of thanks is the right response, that enables us to enjoy things in their proper place.
He is so generous with us, isn’t he? My cup runneth over – and can I say, it really is quite an extraordinary cup…
Archdeacon for Wollongong | 7pm