Discovering the Chinatown Dragon

Discovering the Chinatown Dragon

posted in Blog, Creation, Creativity, Design, Life in General, Photography | Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I hate to exercise. And, unfortunately, it shows.

Technically, I don’t hate all exercise. I like surfing and ocean water sports but those are not readily available options in Atlanta, Georgia. And whether or not those even count as exercise, the bottom line is this: (A) I sweat a lot, and (B) I hate being sweaty.

Nevertheless, after going through my daily internal debate about whether or not to do even a minimal amount of exercising (Voice in one ear: “You’re too busy to exercise today” / Voice in other ear: “If you don’t get some exercise all that other stuff could become suddenly irrelevant”), I decided to take a walk.

If I’m going to walk in the neighborhood, I’ll typically do it after the sun goes down, just because it’s cooler then. Actually, for summertime in Atlanta, “less hot” is probably a better term than “cooler”. This evening I started earlier than usual, in full daylight, while the dog-walkers were making their laps and neighbor kids were enjoying their last window of outdoor playtime.

I plugged the earbuds into my iPhone and found a lecture on the arts and imagination by Cal Seerveld to listen to while I walked. Partly because I really wanted to hear the talk he gave and partly because I wanted to take my mind off of the fact that I would be getting sweatier by the minute. I adjusted the sound to make sure I would be able to hear the audio presentation above the sound of my huffing and puffing. And then I was off.

We don’t have sidewalks in my neighborhood so all walking, biking and skateboarding has to be done on the streets. Not that I’ve been biking or skateboarding lately (though I will say that when I see one of the teenagers come flying down the road from the cul-de-sac up the hill, I am a bit tempted). Being light outside, with humans milling about, it was nice to be able to exchange the occasional wave or hello. When Nancy and I walk together at night, we typically make loops walking from one end of our street to the other. Since I was on my own this evening I decided to branch out to other nearby streets as well.

It was on one of those streets that I happened to pass the largest caterpillar I had ever seen. I stopped, turned, and stooped down to examine the little monster on the asphalt. He was amazing. I knew I had to have a photo of this guy so I stood and fished the iPhone from my pocket. I was standing there, in a driveway on the edge of the road, trying to get to the camera feature when I noticed a car pull up and stop. A lady was trying to pull into the driveway I was blocking. I stepped aside to let her pass and then squatted down in the street to photograph the caterpillar. When I turned around to see if she was wondering what I was doing, she already had the garage door closed and the light turned off. No doubt she was peering through some mini blinds with a phone in her hand, already having dialed a 9 and a 1 and just waiting to dial the other 1 if the weirdo in the street made even the slightest move toward her house.

I started to walk up the street but didn’t get very far before I decided that I had to go back for another photo of the bizarre little work of art in the road. I sat down, hoping I wouldn’t be hit by a car, and took a few more shots. This little creature kept causing me to think of images I had seen of long, people-powered dragons in Chinatown parades. Its bright yellow-green body had a scary looking orange and black face. Jet black spikes protruded from its back with sharp little mini-spikes protruding from the larger ones. Near the head, long, large, orange spikes with black tips jutted out of the yellow-green shell. With small black spikes emerging from the larger orange ones. Strange. Bizarre. And yet clearly and amazingly designed. The same God that created the physics for outrageous sunsets and the delicate beauty of color-filled butterflies also fashioned the color palette and intimidating physique of this beautifully grotesque little creature. And even more amazing is that He has designed this ugly/beautiful monster to turn into one of those beautiful color-filled butterflies (though judging from its size, this one might just turn into a bird – or a pterodactyl).

As a designer myself (by God’s grace), I am prone to look at things with an evaluative perspective, noticing the conscious decisions that have been made in the selection of form, color, texture, solidity, translucency, taste, smell, etc. in created things. The variety in God’s portfolio blows me away. Fog-filled gardens pierced by arrows of early morning light. Bone-shaking electrical storms that bend trees like twigs. Little goldfish and great white sharks. Fluorescent blue reef fish and hideous deep-water ghouls with little flashlights that hang on arched extensions from the fronts of their faces in an eerie world that never sees the light of day.

Like a thirteen year old boy who likes to blow things up with firecrackers, He crashes galaxies into each other creating who knows what kind of explosions (thank you Hubble telescope for the photos). Jesus is amazing. The ultimate Creator with a capital “C”. So unlike the deluge of wimpy paintings of Him passed down to us over the centuries.

So, everywhere we look, whether stooping down on the edge of a street or peering into deep space with the assistance of a super telescope, we can see the stunning work of an amazing Creator unlike any other. Or, we can just take it all for granted.

Sweaty t-shirt or not, I’m really glad I took the walk.



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