In anticipation of an upcoming trip back into the mountains of Montana, I’ve been doing some daydreaming. Whenever I find myself in wild places at higher elevations and when the views are the most expansive, I often try to pick out places in the landscape where human activity is detectable. My eyes might be drawn to a logging road cut through the forests or switch backing up a hillside. It might be the remnants of an old mining or livestock operation or long-ago abandoned housing. It might even be more present activity like the smoke from a rising campfire.
I think this is a curious place for my mind to go, when surrounded by vast stretches of mountain peaks and the valleys below them. It’s as if I want or need to find my own place within all the natural beauty displayed before me. I readily praise God for the handiwork that delights my eyes, but I also am reminded that we humans belong here too. We’re not just visitors or tourists, we belong here.
My friend John Hermanson, of the folk duo Storyhill, wrote and regularly performs a song inspired by the place that has been so central to my life and has deeply shaped my sense of God’s activity in my life. The opening line of “Boulder River” is “This is the place where I am most wanted, where everything I am comes from.”
I think this is the power of landscape, to anchor us in ways that we are known, understood, find purpose, feel connection. The big skies and mountain wilderness of Montana do this for me. So do the lakes and pines of northern Minnesota. How about for you? What landscapes are you most spiritually connected with? Is it the farmland your family has tended for generations? Is it the neighborhood where you raised your family? Is it the wild place you seek out for respite?
As you go about your day, dream about this place, the one where you are most wanted, the one where everything you are comes from. Know that God has put you there to be understood, to reveal your purpose, to be connected and to be known. The next time we’re together, tell me about your place (or send me an email). I’d love to hear all about it.
May God’s peace find you this day. – Pastor Peter
Let us pray…
Creator God, we give thanks that you have made this world and placed us within it. Continue to reveal its beauty for us and uncover how our presence is an essential part of your vision. Amen.