When we sit back in a chair on a balcony, holding a cup of coffee in our hands and gaze upon the horizon of a mountain range, we are speechless. The magnificence of the mountains is breathtaking. It does not matter whether or not we have lived near them our entire life; they are spectacular. It is no wonder why mountains have always been a place to find the presence of God.
They direct our eyes away from the small details of each day, which are able to distract and hide the glimmers of God. Before them, we can sense a peace that normally seems distant, except perhaps in the quiet corners of prayer. Our bodies relax more and our fears subside just for a moment. We try to absorb the scope of the mountains' majesty, but we are at a loss for words.
In other places, we might discuss the topography of the mountain range or its elevation above sea level. We might analyze the variation in temperature because of the altitude or the lack of oxygen in the air, depending on high we measure. We might even consider the adventurous spirit of the mountains, tackling a lifetime goal of climbing to the top peak or snow skiing in the winter. Conversations can take us in many directions, but if we simply turn and look, sitting right before them, we are overwhelmed with what to say.
We all need such an experience, where the grandeur of a mountain makes us feel small. The magnificence of the mountains reveals the grand size of the world and demonstrates that the world is not limited by our worlds. We need occasionally to step outside of our concerns and joys, remembering the grandeur of God, for it cultivates humility and simplicity.
On the other hand, God is also found in the small, menial work of each week that is born out of various commitments. We all need to sit and gaze upon the magnificence of the mountains, but we also need to know what it is like to have a child sit in our lap. Knowing that another person depends upon us has its own humbling majesty. We feel the responsibility of our words and actions, our errands and our work. We learn the deep spiritual significance of a devoted life.
We foster devotion by knowing that our lives are significant to others and to God. The menial tasks of each day can distract and hide the glimmers of God, but they can also reveal and disclose the devotion of love. A devoted life unfolds into our commitments to others.
We need to sit beside mountains in order to feel small as well as hold a child in our lap, knowing the importance of a devoted life. We need both, for we discover that God is big enough to depend upon as well as that God is in the midst of our big responsibilities. We can return to both, sitting still and speechless before the magnificence of God and sitting with a child, remembering that our menial tasks matter the most.