I look out from the top of the planet where the highest paved highway in North America winds precariously to the height of Mount Evans in Colorado. Mountain ranges rise up from meadows before my very eyes.
I am speechless. My breath is stilled.
Panoramic views of 360 degrees surround the summit at 14,271 feet. The vast expanse of land masses and waterways and trees and open sky humble me in an instant.
I feel insignificant.
I wonder where my human life fits in this beautiful landscape. Where does humanity fit?
“What is man,” Job asks God in the book of Job 7:17, “that you make much of him, or pay him any heed?”
Immediately, I feel the weight of Job’s sentiments. And for the psalmist, too. Why do we matter?
When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place— What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?
The significance of my daily concerns seem trivial and inconsequential. A great leveling is taking place as the things of my heart and mind become shaken and sorted and categorized into some sort of order within the great beauty I behold before me.
What was paramount in my sense of importance becomes shuffled and tempered.
It feels like a new order, a sigh of surrender, a reconciliation of placement. Things seem to fall into their right spaces in my heart and psyche and soul.
The burdens are lifted. The weight diminished.
Out of the great heights comes a leveling.
Out of the leveling comes a leavening.
Something seems to be quickening in my spirit.
I look at an ancient tree in one of the meadows below. The bark has grown thick upon its wide trunk. The tree has a place in the expanse of time, in the broad sweep of the Milky Way galaxy, in the universe of being.
And somehow that tree is metaphorical for all living things that are and once were and the value of life. I recall the Tree of Life in the original garden of Creation. Somehow this all fits together—tree, plenitudes of wonder, grace—it’s all here. There really is an order to things and to that order comes a responsibility of loving it all well and sustaining each other and sustaining the earth.
That quickening I mentioned has everything to do with my own restored trust in a holy God as I breathe again a sense of belonging.
What have those mountains worth revealing?/
More glory and more grief than I can tell:/
The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling/
Can centre both worlds of Heaven and Hell./
—Emily Bronte, ” ‘Often rebuked, yet always back returning’ ”
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Photo attribution to Wikimedia http://wikipedia.org/Mount_Evans and Brian W. Schaller