My first memory of plankton was not one of awe. Nor was my second. Nor many I remember from my youth in Hawaii. Rather, those memories are full of fear and pain, of the long, blue tentacles of the Portuguese man o' war wrapping around my arm or leg. Often there was a terrible moment: the blue cord tangled around my body, the stinging neurotoxin not yet delivered but completely unavoidable. I was not in awe or wonder. I didn’t care that despite its looks it was not a jellyfish, but rather a complex colony of four different types of tiny animals. They just hurt. But gazing at Christian Sardet’s astounding photos in this issue, I’m in awe now. I needed his photos (and decades of distance) to stop and stare at the man o’ war’s kin: animals I have never seen—or even considered—before.
Stopping and staring—receiving visions and taking them seriously—seems to have been part of key moments in the life of Ramon Llull as well. I wonder how much awe and wonder he experienced as he traveled to Tunis, hoping to convince its Muslims to follow Christ. A Majorcan born half a decade after the Muslim and Christian war for the island, amid crusades and jihads, may have carried the memory of deep stings. But gazing on Christ seems to have carried him through.
In this issue’s third piece, Lauren Winner considers the way God holds our gaze, entrancing as a flame. And in this issue’s poem, Catherine Flora Con reminds us of a future when our eyes may not so easily wander. Seems like a great issue in which to try our first photo essay. Gaze along with us, and let us know if you’d like to see more photo essays in the future.
—Ted Olsen, editor
Please log in or subscribe to continue reading
Christianity Today subscribers can log in below for full access. Not a subscriber? Subscribe and get complete access to The Behemoth and Christianity Today.
- The Drifters
Plankton planet: Meet the creatures who make up 98 percent of the oceans’ biomass. /
- Before We Conquer, Have We Tried Love and Prayers?
Remembering the first missionary to Muslims, 700 years after his death. /
- Stay By the Fire
The God who makes himself known as flame wants to hold our gaze. /
- The New Creation
‘A choir of a thousand tongues / singing we’ll no longer toil.’ /
- Wonder on the Web
Wonder on the Web Issue 30: Links to amazing stuff /
Unlock This Article for a Friend
To unlock this article for your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below.