One morning, as he was taking care of me, my dad had John Denver’s song, Rocky Mountain High, in his head, so he asked our smart speaker to play it. It’s a lovely song that makes you think about the natural beauty of the created world while Denver lovingly describes starlight, streams, forests, and mountain vistas.
My dad said, “It makes you want to go to the Rocky Mountains, just to see that.”
And I said, “But it’s right here.”
The grandeur and loveliness of this world is in the subtlety of a leaf lifting in a breeze or a bird ruffling its feathers or a flower letting slip one of its petals. It’s experienced in a raindrop falling from the sky, wet and plump and landing with a splash upon your skin; the water pools in your palm and slides down your wrist in a cool, yet warm, stream, so fine and light that the traces left are only felt by you. The Colorado River, at its mightiest, is not any more amazing and breathtaking than this. Likewise, the grandest peaks of mountains do not come closer to touching the vastness of the heavens than does the wispy cloud over your own head.
Do you see it?
Are you not amazed? Do you not feel yourself falling back deeply into the arms of the Divine, surrounded by the awesome beauty of loving embrace?
“The experience that John Denver sings about,” I said to my dad, “is available to everyone everywhere. But sometimes, we might need something as big and obviously beautiful as the Rockies to help us to see the exquisite loveliness of our world and sense the presence of God. It’s like people who have poor hearing needing something loud in order to hear, and people who have poor vision needing something big and bright in order to see. …But for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see….”
We Are Here
The exquisite loveliness and created goodness of our earthly home is present and livable everywhere. You do not need to go further than your own hand or the sound of a loved one’s voice in order to experience it and plunge deeply into the Creation of divine love. To read and fully appreciate the wordless wisdom of the Sacred Scripture that is Nature, however, I believe that you need to be out of doors.
You need to have the canopy of trees above you, or the open blueness, clouds, or stars of sky. You need to see and feel the texture of the Earth’s soil and breathe in its aroma, witnessing the growth of living things rooted within it. And you do need to find someplace quiet enough to hear the wind as it touches living things, leaves or pine needles, the natural movement of air rustling the green life even as it delights you — you, who are also a living creature, with a body as exquisitely alive as the trees and the birds, as beautifully created as the mountains and the streams. We are like everything that is bodily alive, dependent upon sunlight, air, and water; we are given and we receive. And through the gifts of sunlight, air, and water, we are able to experience the fullness of our humanity in the giving and receiving of love.
Only love can sing rapturously of the truly beautiful, and we humans are particularly created for rapturous love, love that is known and experienced, received and given, through the everyday wonders of life here, in God’s Creation.
“You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply, Rocky Mountain high.”
Infinitely higher than any drug could take you, high up and deep within to the heights and depths that the spirit can travel, this is surely where God leads us when we listen to hear His Word, when we seek to see His Way — the way of divine love, ceaselessly creative, endlessly generous — when we love to live the full goodness of life, awe-inspiringly witnessed and truly appreciated through Our Creator’s gifts, gifts given to us with unconditional love.
Taste and See
Nature provides nourishment for both the body and the soul. Our minds and spirits are refreshed and sustained by nature’s beauty, not only in grand places, but also in simple ones near at hand. I believe that no one’s shelter should be far from unspoiled nature. Whenever we think that Man’s ways are best, everything paved and contained by steel and concrete, as though we were little machines inside bigger machines, we forget what we really are — who we really are: living creatures loved into being by infinite and eternal Spirit, the source of all life.
The natural world is not ours to be lorded over, manipulated, and exploited. We are not created in order to separate ourselves from the created world, subdivided, partitioned, and sterilized. We are intelligent, creative, and loving creatures created to be stewards of Creation, not for our finite selves and our finite desires, but for the infinite — for the sake of Creation as a whole and the eternal Creator at the heart of all.
Tread softly upon the ground of your earthly home, dear reader. Here is where every kind of wild beast and every Saint has walked. Here is where The Creator took flesh and lived the human experience of loving all that God creates, with earthly life itself being prayer and communion with the Divine.
© 2021 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.