Friday, May 13, 2011
Approaching Storm from the South, Strong City, KS
Reflecting back, growing up on the wide open plains of the American Midwest conditioned me for a no boundaries attitude about life in general. I’ve talked to folks that were raised in mountainous areas that felt exposed in the Midwest and longed for the comfort of the womb-like security of the landscape surrounding them with aspen, pine and snow covered peaks closing in on all sides. But for me, nothing compares with walking across refreshing wind-blown prairie grasses firmly grasping my trusty twelve gage Browning with the secondary goal of flushing out a native prairie chicken. I’ve always sensed God’s spirit riding on these winds. The same goes for walking a row of hedge apple trees seeking coveys of quail or meandering along a slow moving stream bed that naturally follows the contours of the land. I’ve also had the pleasure of this experience while patiently standing in center field waiting on a long fly ball on a warm summer’s evening, shuffling at the net of a doubles tennis match in the spring, and walking down the eighteenth fairway next to an expansive lake reflecting autumn’s bright colors as the natural air conditioning off the water refreshes me.
And of course there’s the expansive sky. If a visitor remarks that the flatter landscape is too boring for them, I remind them that they’re missing the grandest scenery of all if they’re not looking up.
But since God’s spiritual being permeates the entire universe, His presence can literally be felt anywhere at any time. I’ve often remarked that if there actually was a cathedral where perhaps God paused to refresh His spirit, it must be at the water’s edge of the clear mountain lake reflecting the twin Maroon Bells peaks outside Aspen, Colorado. The soothing sound of the breeze slicing through the surrounding pine needles provides just the perfect choral music of ancient spirits for the worship experience. A sunrise Easter service on a Carolina beach with the wind driven waves chanting in the background also comes close. And I have to admit that experiencing a Sunday morning service inside Notre Dame Cathedral was quite moving, along with an especially spirit-filled service in our local church with human voices singing in praise.
I think we just need to be cautious of leaving our air conditioned homes to get into our air conditioned vehicles to go to our air conditioned man-made malls, work places and worship centers. Actually, I’m as opposed to freezing or sweating as the next person, but I feel that an artificial environment can somehow detract from being in contact with reality, where God’s presence is most felt. Of course, extremes of our environment can many times be an even bigger distraction, so conditioning our surroundings can be useful. It’s just so pleasant to get out into the raw world when we can without the artificial encumbrances and simply be still to experience God in the breezes.