View from the Mountain

   From time to time my husband preached on what the Bible has to say about daily living. In a sermon he talked about the highs and lows of ordinary, everyday life in contrast to the mountaintop experiences we all have from time to time. As ordinary people, seldom do we sustain the euphoria of the mountaintop in our everyday life.

   Leighton and I lived on the mountaintop of joy in our married life together. Each day was a celebration of love and each other. When he died, a part of me died. With his death it felt as though my joy died. In the finality of a single breath, my love for life and hope for the future seemed gone.

   On a summer vacation to Colorado the year before he died, Leighton and I visited Pike’s Peak, a fourteen-thousand-foot elevation with a breathtaking vista that on a clear day seems to offer a view to all the world. It was a perfect day, a sparkling day that filled me with excitement and gratitude for the bounty of love and joy that filled our life.

   As we stood next to each other he slipped his hand into mine. It was soft and warm and strong. In that exquisite moment of shared quiet and spiritual union we were alive to each other and to all of life. In the joy of a mountaintop moment, hand in hand we read the inscription on a plaque commemorating the poem “America the Beautiful” by Katherine Lee Bates. Her visit to the mountain in 1893 inspired her to write these words, “All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”

   The oneness we experienced at that peaceful place on a glorious summer day was a cameo moment in life, one of those rare instances when we take a mental picture and create a lasting memory in our heart and in our mind. I remember the smell, the warmth, and the perfection of God’s creation on that glistening day of love and life, “…and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV).

   On the Sunday before July 4 one year, the church choir sang the first verse of “America the Beautiful” as a choral benediction. In an unexpected moment of grief recalled, the power of that mountaintop memory flooded my heart. Tears filled my eyes, I felt the warmth of Leighton’s hand slip into mine, and I was transported to a day and place, and to a sacred experience of love.  

   Thanks be to God for the gift of love. Thanks be to God for the gift of freedom. Thanks be to God for the gift of life, beautiful life.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
Psalm 46:2-3






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