|Boyd Lake State Park, Colorado|
The mountains show Nature's indifference to humanity by going up and blocking the sky and easy passage across with their bulwarks of rock. The plains show it by giving too easy a passage; a glimpse of the vastness of the sky, the breadth of the earth.
They say, "You, humanity, can try to tame us. You can build your roads across with high speed limits to try to minimize the distance, you can dam the rivers to create lakes where none were, cut tunnels through the living rock to get across the mountains. But know your efforts will not last. The forces of wind, water and time will prevail to bring the landscape back to where I, Nature, want it to be."
It's a living example of the old Ash Wednesday prayer: Remember, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. As a child, the refrain scared me - it expressed an impending loss my mind couldn't embrace. Like many people, I liked my world as it was. We, people, like our mountains, rivers and seacoasts to be immutable. When earthquakes, hurricanes and floods impose a new order, we cry, and do our best to restore things to how they were when we first found them.
In the last decade or so, I've begun to appreciate the beauty of the prayer. Rather than cold death and loss, the refrain now speaks to me of the cycle of life. As the mountains were once seabeds, and time inexorably washes their rocks again to the sea, so we are meant to grow tall and strong, then return to the One who created us.
"This, too, shall pass." All are encompassed in the cycle; from the tiny fish who swim in clear mountain lakes to the sun that brings life to the water.
Life is beautiful, precious, ephemeral. It cannot be grasped; held on to past its time. Each day I open my eyes, and I have a choice. As when driving across the plains, I can look for and find the beauty of the sky and the landscape, stretching to the horizons, or I can wallow in frustration, focusing only on the odometer and the hours yet to be spent behind the wheel; worried more about my destination than the glory surrounding me during the drive.
God, help me to seek the beauty.