Saturday, July 14, 2012

Encountering Nature, Part 4: Mountain Sabbath

I realized one recent evening that I'd spent a stunningly high amount of time focused on things right in front of my face and stunningly little time looking at the world beyond arm's length. And so, with that realization, I decided to walk around in the mountains for a few hours.

I hesitate to call my activity "hiking," because true hiking probably doesn't involve chairlifts. But as I settled in and began the uphill ride, my vantage point lifted and I could see for miles. The human hubbub of the base camp activities faded within minutes and I began to breathe deep the mountain air, savoring the sun and the smells.

The lift was largely empty, and the mountain even more so. In fact, I did not encounter a single human being on the trails throughout the day. The hours were filled with trees above and smaller bushes shading the ground. Butterflies fluttered by here and there, ants scurried across the path, and flies engaged me in air battles. Old structures silently suggested the land's history as the intertwining trees asserted their dominance.

As I again neared the base camp, the sounds of nature were mixed gradually with distant laughter and squeals of those enjoying the attractions there. This shift back toward "civilization" was significant, too, drawing me back by reminding me of the people I love.

I'm not sure how it works, but there is something about lifting the eyes in my head to look beyond the immediate physical reality that lifts the eyes of my soul to do the same. I returned home that night with renewed perspective. This, I think, is what Sabbath is about -- setting aside a day each week as a gift from God for rest, restoration, and reorientation -- and I am grateful.

No comments: