I’d imagine that those unattainable words of Shan Jahan were forever in the forefront of his mind. Shan Jahan was the Mughal emperor who masterfully produced one of the most magnificent displays of engineering and architecture in human history, the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal was constructed in 1648 and began being built in 1641, one year after the death of Gauhara Begum, Shan Jahans beloved wife. The love Shan Jahan had for her was said to “exceed by a thousand times what he felt for any other”. She died while giving birth to their fourteenth child. So grief-stricken was Shan Jahan that he set out to construct something so vast it would be remembered forever. Have you ever lost some one or some thing? Imagine loosing your everything. From what we can tell from historical records and literature Shan Jahan so passionately loved his wife that after she died, his mood and temperament were never the same. I’d imagine that if Shan Jahan was granted one wish, it would be to show his wife what he made for her. That all of the affluence and power he possessed would be exchanged in a heartbeat for the chance to set his eyes on her once more. That he would give anything to be able to just show her how much he loved her. It was this immeasurable longing that had him build the marvelous display that is the Taj Mahal.
How would she respond? How could she respond? How do we respond to love when it is so undeserving?
One of the unfortunate mistakes we humans make when we receive a gift is to think that the gift is for us in the sense that it’s primarily for our own consumptuous appetite. We see this every Christmas as children forego the expression of love their parents are making and see the holiday as just another chance to get more stuff. I’d imagine this behavior pains the gift giver, the one who pours out their resources to purchase a physical item as an illustration, a marker, a representation of their loyalty, faithfulness, and love. To me we miss the point of gifts when we think they are in themselves an ends, they are not. The gift is a means to an ends, the true ends being an enriched awareness of an abstract truth, love.
Again, what is the appropriate response?
The Psalmist of the Bible wrote of this dilemma when he became conscious of the grand, epic, vast, beautiful, magnificent, indescribable, intricate, and amazing expression of love God created for humanity. If we survey the most ingenious architecture of our realm, how does our earth, solar system, and universe compare when held next to the towers, complexes, and temples of man? Is the galaxy not infinitely more complicated and spacious than our man made structures? What if the very matter of this existence in all of its complexities and grandeur is a Taj Mahal built as a gift for the human race? What if every molecular function, planetary orbit, microscopic organism, beating heart, thunderous storm, brilliant sky, and distant star are an illustration of God’s love for us? What if God could whisper in our soul when we gaze upon the beauty of a newborn child or a sunset, what would He say? I think He’d softly say to us, “I made this all for you…”
The question that remains is, how will you respond?
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!