One of the books in my armchair pile is Annie Dillard's 1975 Pullitzer-winner Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. It's modern nature writing with a streak of spiritual memoir. Reading it in a garden chair on the weekend, this passage caught my attention - and drew forth an ‘amen’:
We don't know what's going on here. If these tremendous events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield of millions of monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriters, that they ignite? We don't know. Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and descirbe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.
At the time of Lews and Clark, setting the priaries on fire was a well-known signal that meant, 'Come down to the water.' It was an extravagant gesture, but we can't do less. If the landscape reveals one certainty, it is that the extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever-fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire from the word go. I come down to the water to cool my eyes. But everywhere I look I see fire; that which isn't flint is tinder, and the whole world sparks and flames.