My weekly hikes are turning into wonderful opportunities for reflection and inspiration! This past week’s hike took place in an open space near Silver City called Boston Hill (because the area was owned in the early 1880s by the Massachusetts and New Mexico Mining Company), which today is home to a number of abandoned mines, volcanic rocks and, during monsoon season, a nice array of wildflowers. One of the things that caught my attention, however, were these rocks, which had clearly completely encased rocks of a very different sort. Here, the lighter, softer rock has worn away, exposing the tougher, multi-colored rocks. Given the volcanic nature of the area, I found myself wondering if perhaps that lighter rock is volcanic ash, which settled around these other rocks and eventually encased them.
I also found myself remembering the little joke about the baby fish asking “Momma, what’s ‘water’?” Water being, of course, for fish what air is for humans: that ubiquitous element that surrounds us and is always touching us, that we breathe in and out, and that we cannot conceive of as anything apart from our experience of it. For literally thousands, perhaps millions, of years, those multi-colored rocks were completely encased in the lighter rock; if they had the ability to perceive, they would not have known there was an existence that did not involve the rocks in which they were encased.
That is, until the lighter rocks wore down or were flaked away, and the multi-colored rocks were—for them, “suddenly”—exposed to air, and wind-blown dust, and rain. An entirely new type of existence was forced upon them—in much the same way as fish caught on a line or in a net are suddenly exposed to air after a lifetime of only experiencing water.
All this led me to think about the experience of being immersed in God’s love. I believe it is very similar to our experience of air, and a fish’s experience of water. As the Psalmist says (139:5), “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me.” In Romans 8:38-39, Paul says “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Are you aware of being surrounded by that love of God? Are you ever conscious of breathing love in and out, just as you do air? Or are you most aware of love when you feel separated from it?
Do you know that God’s love comes to you via grace, and that you are immersed in it, whether you will it or not?
Besides air, and love, in what else do you immerse yourself? Are those things helpful, or harmful, to you?