I climbed to the top of the tableland and unfolding in front of me was a vista incomprehensibly expansive. For a moment it seemed as if I stood suspended in the air as the land swept away in every direction toward a horizon that bent with the graceful arc of the earth. The suspension was heightened by the feeling that, for a moment, I escaped nature’s gravity and floated on the zephyrs that wafted deliciously down from the mountains beyond sight in the vastness of the north.
The smell on those breezes was sweet and blue, cooled by the snows of those peaks and carrying their crisp cleanliness further than the spirits of those mountains can see from even their elevated sanctuaries. Caught up in the glory of that smell, my mind wandered for a moment to those precipices and then plunged down into their fertile valleys, joyful and green. I laughed with those valleys before coming back to myself.
The eyes can scarcely believe, nor the mind grasp, the beauty in such a vision. From west to south to east the sienna was broken by every shade of green and yellow hue which can be distinguished. Over the previous month rain had fallen in plenty on that normally-parched land and its grateful residents had sprung duly forth in rapturous cavalcade; their richness and splendor a hymn of praise. On and on, ocotillo, prickly pear, desert spoon and saguaro mixed with the occasional lonely ash or juniper until the colors mixed into a glorious swirl of olive-gray.
To the north hung a different spectacle entirely: the greens and yellows did war with the red and orange of the native stone, and slowly gave way to them until turrets of rock shot up from the flat land. They stood as silent sentries, broodingly and forebodingly guarding whatever glories lay beyond sight. But here too was beauty. A kaleidoscope of patterns ran through the rock. Eons of rain and wind etched into the pale rouge an intricate sculpture. If the mind rested for a few moments upon those sculptures, one might almost perceive a coalesce of images which possibly could be cobbled into a story. The rocks and stones wanting to cry out to tell of all their mysteries – to shout their memories. But each time my ear pricked to a sound, it was carried away before the wind; the stories and mysteries and memories fading to a ghostly whisper.
Each fortress-like mesa interspersed itself amongst the greatest exhibition of all. Amidst the tall, red columns the northern sky turned an ominous blue-black. Down from the mountains, a sheet of rainclouds poured forth. If each mesa could be imagined as a gigantic ship’s prow carving a red sand sea, the billowing, great grayness of the clouds looked like a straining ship’s sail. Amongst this great armada, flashes of fierce lightning flung by the hand of Thor himself struck out; each bolt glowing a rebuking shade of bright purple. The artillery of the gods unleashed itself upon the green of the earth and thundered down through the brown crags of the mesas. The mists of this abundant rain curled before it and began to intermingle with the sweet, blue breezes of the mountains. Drops of moisture circulated with the dust of the desert, before settling back to the ground and leaving the steamy air with a delightful feeling of cleanliness. Renewal and regeneration reassured the heart within the violence of the storm’s pandemonium.
Through it all, whether wind or rain or thunder, the sound of silence reigned. The earth wanted to clap its hands, the rocks wanted to burst forth in song, the torrents of water wanted to patter in a raucous dance and the thunder wanted to peel its invincible voice. However, distance prevented it. My ears could not hear them. So my mind had to imagine it … and my soul had to fill in.
How glorious are Your works, oh Lord! How majestic is the work of Your hands! You have sculpted the rocks to tell Your story. You have planted the gardens of the earth to bless the land. You cause the wind to carry Your message of goodness and renewal to every place. In Your faithfulness You send the rain to fall on the wonders of Your creation. You teach us lessons in our surroundings, if we will only bend our ear to listen and our mind to perceive. Lessons of Your strength and power; of Your love and grace.
Though my life may find paths that wander in the desert, You still are there. Though I find the plenty of a mountain valley, You are the reason for that plenty. I will see all of the works of Your creation – the joyful torrents of blessings with which I am blessed – and I will glorify You. To You and You alone, oh Lord, I ascribe all honor and blessing and glory forever and ever. Amen.