Life in Abundance

Jesus asked the blind men on the side of the road, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Open our eyes,” they asked. And so he did. __Matthew 19: 32-33


Jesus told the people, “I have come so that you will have life, and have life abundantly!” Life in abundance, 
come fully alive! __John 10:10


Is this a great place, or what!

We live here! (oops, sorry, Brad and Lisa…)

We live here!

Here!

Here, where the sun must be up now where most of you are today, out on the shores of an ancient sea, the eastern plains, the leading edge of geological genius – because our sky, this infinite sky, this “blue true dream of sky,” up here at about 8,880 feet, behind the fragile, crumbling slice of fossiferous limestone hogback, and the undulating forested folds of foothills, up here, right here! where the forest glades give way to the first Front Range granite peaks – I can see Mount Ypsilon, Fairchild, Chiquita and Mummy Mountain from this table where I write (and the face of Long’s Peak from the bedroom window), these granite peaks are shimmering with the slightest glow of a pink glaze and the few stratus clouds stretching out across the horizon make for just enough of a canvas to capture the turning color: cycling from that first deep slate blue that makes you wonder for a moment if the day will be a good one, just before sunrise, to their almost-black magenta phase as the first glint of light grazes the under-belly of the clouds, and then they become bright, intense, this other-worldly mauve-crimson, as the full force of sun catches hold.

And now, in only a few short moments the eastern sky has settled in for the day: looks mostly blue from here, and the clouds are white; all the while behind me, to the west, the sky is still washed out. but the granite is now gleaming silver, better than polished, reflecting the sun, and tiny patches of early snow ago are shrinking before my eyes.

The coffee is strong, the Oreos are tasty (hey! I’m on retreat; I can eat Oreos before breakfast if I want), and no bears were staring back at me from the porch or pounding on the door wanting my Shredded Wheat, when I wandered out here to sit down and watch the world awaken. (I’d kind of like to see a bear -- they’re close! – but not with Sunny anywhere near.)

“Just another day in paradise,” we say. And so it is. “’Tis a privilege to live in Colorado.”So says the masthead every morning of the Post.

 And don’t we know it!

This crazy place where we’ve got it all. And we wear it all to accommodate all we want to do when we GET OUT THERE: those of us who confuse the back end of our vehicles for closets keep bicycle helmets alongside cowboy hats, sun visors, and chic Panama hats (we’ve got them all in the back of the Subaru, along with a sun hat and a baseball cap or two, or three). The baseball caps compete with Kent Feeds caps with mesh crowns. There are jean jackets along with hiking windbreakers and (in hope:) rain coats. Cowboy boots and hiking boots. We’re more likely to wear flannel shirts than Oxford button down. If anybody wears a tie at all out here, odds are it’s with a chambray shirt. We wear tuxedoes in the barnyard at The Stock Show and cowboy boots to the Symphony gala. Strappy sandals and ski boots. And HA! Even deck shoes! We can even sail!

Then there are the ubiquitous tee-shirts – all saying something!

“Got oxygen?” is a favorite up here.

“Elk duds,”

“Please pet a moose; give us job security. Thank you. Your local EMT’s.” (Wait, those are for tourists. Ours say, well, you know: the names of a certain large brown animal and another large animal, with longer legs and a horse head. And “life is good,” and the names of a lot of brew pubs. How could I almost forget brewpubs!

Yes, we wear those along with stylin’ knubby wool vests. Sweatshirts and jean jackets sell out. They say we pay as much (or more) for our bikes than our cars. But ‘they’ haven’t been in the parking lot at my King Soopers. The bikes are amazing but the SUV’s, well, I think they still cost more.

Nonetheless, whatever they ride, Coloradoans are riding people: horses, bikes, big motorized bikes, and some of us even resort to plain old cars. Why?

Nature.

The gift of this place.

Getting out there! Getting out here. What a gift. All God’s grace.

The still gleaming silver granite peaks, and the delicate subtle colors of the tundra where rocks from the first upheaval 1.7 billion years ago were thrust up from the earth’s core yet again 70 million years ago and rearranged vertically, standing on edge like so many Dominoes. 1.7 billion years old. And I touched it!

On the top of the top of the top of Trail Ridge, above Rock Cut, where we can look over at the fragile tundra on back the tops of Ypsilon, Chiquita, and Chapin, the whole earth is mixed up together! The most ancient gneiss and schist, is jumbled together with ‘recent’ granite and quartz, sediment (rock ‘junk’), mica, and then, again, bollixed up with the much more modern molten lava, volcanic ash in the Never Summer range.

God is here! God is at work, still! These rocks! Parts of God. Given for us. Not like bread and wine but nonetheless, the presence of God, right at our feet. Before our – ah, what is it? – oh yes, eyes!

Other treasures for other senses. A feast. The Engelsman fir and the cedar, the delicious aroma of balsam. The fresh breeze on my arms, the quaking aspen.

The aspen are turning golden and crimson. They are lovely. The forest fire from 1903 is mostly recovered, finally. Dave and I spent a spectacular Monday in God’s good creation. Simply marveling. Simply – no, complexly, deeply – amazed!

“Open my eyes.” And Jesus did.

“The eyes of my eyes are opened…”

“O Lord have mercy! Open my eyes!”

It was staggering. When you really think about it. “Even the stones cry out…” What a gift! O great God!

Oh, what a day! And today is another one. And tomorrow. Whether I am up here, or down there, looking up here, remembering up here, going through photos from up here. The words of another Swede, a poet, a great poet, Carl Boberg, are always on my lips and the melody sings sweetly in my mind, “O Mighty God,” O store Gud (po Svensk).

“O great God! When I survery the world you have made, how your wisdom leads the threads of life there… Then my soul bursts out in the sound of the songs of praise, ‘O great God! O great God!’

We know this hymn. “How Great Thou Art.” Translated first from Swedish to Russian and then around Robinhood’s Barn (what on earth does that mean? btw) it got back to us a bit different.” I love the original poem best but I also love singing,

“O Lord, my God, when I consider all the worlds thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed: then sings my soul, ‘How great thou art!

Yesterday and all summer long as I have tromped through aspen glades and looked up at Maroon Bells and Long’s Peak, Mt. Massive, and the Indian Peaks, Mt. Evans and dear Ypsilon, these words have been constant,

“When through the woods and forest glades I wander, I hear the birds sing sweetly through the trees…”

(note to readers, clearly this does not account for the squawking magpies and the outright battles I’ve heard at hummingbird feeders, but mostly sweetly, yes, of course)

“…when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

“Then sings my soul my Savior God to thee, how great thou art!”

“Open my eyes,” said the blind.

And Jesus did!

Whatever beauty comes across your path today – in people’s faces, in the fur of a tabby cat, flowers hanging in there past Labor Day! no less, or the gorgeous golden aspen leaves, the long views of Mt. Evans and the Indian Peaks, or a hawk circling high, pray with us,

“Lord, have mercy! Open our eyes! “

So that the eyes of our eyes are opened, and we too can be filled with abundance, come fully alive! And we can sing, (awkwardly, because it doesn’t fit the tune), these words of the poet that make our delight and gratitude very clear:

“Then my soul will burst out – BURST OUT, BUST OUT! – in the sound of songs of praise,
“Thank you, good God, Thank you! Good God!”

O, God, thank you thank you thank you! For most this amazing day! You are awesome! Keep me looking! And grateful!  Amen

Click here for How Great Thou Art with lyrics performed by Chris Rice.

Jan Erickson-Pearson

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