The Colorado mountains are a constant companion in Denver. With crisp, white peaks that rest on mountains and more mountains: range after range after range -like waves with white-tops in a tumultuous frozen sea. I see the mountains from my desk through double windows in my cathedral office and I see them from my home on a local hill-top. They are majestic. They are heavy and wondrous like the Hebrew word which birthed our modern word “glory.” They sit there like a Buddha or like the Ancient-of-days way we sometimes see God.
The mountains of Colorado shimmer in the morning light when I walk for my hour of walking mediation each morning the third hour after one of thinking and one of silent non-thinking. The sun comes up to the left of me as I walk with Kai-the-black-lab and the mountains are to the right of me as we walk, making the light reflect off large windows on those mountains like spotlights glued to cliffs. Five minutes later and they all disappear. Some day so will I. So will Kai.
We like to look at icons, stained glass, sculpture. The art inspires part of our spirituality and the scriptures say that the eyes are the lamp of the soul. Saint John’s Cathedral is full of art and there is much to inspire – even in Lent. But like a good icon or a carefully carved statue, the Colorado mountains feel like an icon of sorts. They feel like a statue of God – always there, cross-legged- always massive, always quiet, always watching and always pouring down with fresh, clean, blue water to nourish the wilderness of the Denver plains.
It is no longer difficult to feel the corporate anxiety of The Church when young people choose hiking in the mountains and picnics near a barn over Sunday church services. Something seems to be changing as our generations shift and change after the Boomer era. And although I feel that church may change a bit, God will not, and need not. Denver’s skyline is changing but these mountains look the same as they have for centuries, though with perhaps less snow.
Liturgies are beautiful and I love the way ours unfold at The Cathedral of Saint John’s in the Wilderness. The white ceiling of our nave seems like a mirror concave reflection of the white mountains’ convex soaring outside our doors. I am wondering, this Lent, if beauty and heavy glory are ways of Lent we may walk – in churches and in forests. I get the Way of the Cross and I do that on Fridays, but I also want Lent to be an intimate time with this massive God who sits, silently, staring at us with unutterable love, cross-legged. There is so much to do in Lent. But what if we did not so much give up things, and instead, sit still; to gaze into God’s beauty – icons of land, streams and mountain.