Here, in the towering presence of these mountains, it’s somehow easier to see myself rightly. My smallness, and my blessing. His impossible strength crashes up before me. Points of colliding stone push up and up until snowy peaks fade into a scattered cloud line. Heaven and earth, meeting here… again. One of those rare places. One of those rare moments.
Our journey took us from the budding fields of Iowa, through the quiet plain of Nebraska and to the Rockies. Three little ones in the backseat with a box of library books and a portable DVD player -a concession I made two road trips ago. Alas, some things just change with time. And some things do not. Through the Rockies and the woods, we wound our way south. I watched the landscape turn orange and friendly faces turn brown. Every bend in the road thrust a new landscape upon us and I felt as if I was perpetually being transported to another place and time.
I just couldn’t take the road for granted. That someone else had gone before me and made this way. What was it like for those first settlers? What mother, with her three children, in a wagon with her brave and compassionate husband had come this way. How many months did they stall at the base of that mountain. How many weeks did they wander through that cavern? Were they in awe as I was, or did the challenge of such vistas steal their praise?
The knobby cactus on dirty orange terrain was just starting to grow redundant when the whole world turned to pine.Turning off that busy interstate and finding our way to HWY 87 we entered Tonto National Forest and great massive waves of pine. Giant curved bridges spanned the huge gorge of green points. The largest stretch of forest I’ve ever seen. Each twist in the road revealing impossible beauty.
And just like my mother, and my grandmother before me, I find song on my lips. Some faint tune that I’ve heard before, as in a dream.
“I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the savior did come for to die,
For poor on’ry people like you and I”
How could such majesty, and such humility ever find place in the same body? But alas all of scripture tells me that God is Mystery. And I am always discovering Him. His impossible, permeating nature.
We took refuge with family for a few days before starting the journey home. This time we passed Arizona by night and watched the sun climb over the Utah horizon. Highway 191 pulled us north, passed horses grazing right next to the road and into the canyons. Layer, after layer of molded stone. Pressed and formed and baked in the hot western sun. Stones tumbled smooth and spires worn ragged. Stacked and strewned; I mused whether they were the work of a master architect, or a free spirited child. Irregular as they were inspiring, the stone continued on. Escorting us all the way back to the western base of that gray-green mountain land.
We met up with the cold mountain river and followed it through twist, turn and tunnel. After much winding we just pulled off for a pre-supper stretch. A single street of an old mining town and an open place for skipping stones. Standing in this cold mountain stream I am my mother. I watched her. Unable, to restrain herself from that pure, sweet current. In she’d go. Her small frame, up to her knees. Smiling as wide as the river itself. She drank in the water, I drank in her smile.
And now the child has become the mother. The water washes over me, washes away the red Utah dust and hours on the road. I look up. Majesty on every side and my feet sink into the Colorado pebbles. My toes are almost numb now but I see the boys skipping rocks and a smile warms my whole. I am small here- small and blessed and not yet home.
Here, I see myself rightly.