Over the course of my life, I’ve met a lot of people who enjoy moments of being out in nature. They generally fall into two groups: mountain people and water people. That’s a generalization, of course—mountain lakes could feed the souls of both groups, I expect—but for the most part it seems that folks gravitate toward one or the other.
I imagine that much of this has to do with our upbringing and experiences. I grew up near the Rocky Mountains, far from the ocean, in a high desert with little flowing water. Henry, my husband, grew up on the island of Puerto Rico, never far from the roar of the ocean and the sound of frequent rainfall (and periodic hurricanes!). He’s happy when he can hear the ocean; I’m happy when I can see the mountains.
I’m even happier when I can get into the mountains. As I mentioned last week, I’ve recently returned from a trip to Colorado. Most mornings I went on a hike with my parents. These were relatively short hikes, in large part because I was almost 8000 feet above my accustomed altitude (one of the downsides of moving to Tucson!). But each day fed my soul. Sometimes we wandered through mountain meadows filled with wildflowers. Other times we followed mountain streams, listening to the sound of the water and enjoying the shaded and meandering trail. We got close enough to the remains of a patch of winter snow that I could touch it—a rare opportunity for this desert dweller.
All those moments, and more, remain with me as I sit at my computer desk, in my office, typing this post. They are not consciously with me as I work, but I can bring them to mind to refresh me. They still form an integral part of my year, my life, and who I am.
We are formed and shaped by the accumulation of such moments in our lives. Some of them form us in definitive ways: Henry prefers being near the beach rather than in the water, as a result of nearly drowning in a water-skiing accident during his college years. But the ocean still calls to him, nonetheless.
We can choose to focus on the precious moments. I still recall my first solo overnight camping experience in the Rocky Mountains (though I prefer not to focus on the car trouble that arose at the end of it!). I can bring to mind what I saw along the logging road I walked as rain clouds moved in. I remember my chilly camping spot near a fishing lake. I can also look up from my desk to see a photo I took of the area. That’s holy ground for me, and always will be.
God is always with us; it is we who become distracted. God “meets” us wherever we pay attention. That might be in the mountains, on a beach, or in the midst of a bustling city (for those who prefer to keep nature at arm’s length). I am grateful for moments in the mountains, where I reconnect with creation and remember the Creator. I marvel at nature’s abundance and remember the abundance in my own life.
Are you a mountain person or a water person—or a city person? Recall some precious moments and memories that feed your soul—and give thanks.