I was talking with someone recently. He believes that God is the author of all things – from the beauty of nature to our flesh and bone bodies. I would agree.
He shared that people should be mindful of this, and to live life as an expression of perpetual thanksgiving.
It reminded me of certain mountaintop experiences in my life. Based on what he said, I decided to take them out of their virtual frames for editing.
When I was about 16 years of age, our church youth group set out on a day hike up a mountain. When we arrived at our destination we were asked to go to separate spots and take in the view. The visibility was excellent. I could clearly see Mount Hood, in Oregon, Mount Rainier, and Mt. Baker to the north. I also remember being fascinated by the flight of an eagle soaring high above in the sky. After 20 minutes, we gathered back together, shared our experiences, and prayed. We thanked God for this beauty.
Some months later I went fishing with my best friend. We took our one-man rafts to a nearby lake. It was before dawn. We paddled out to the north end, anchored ourselves, and cast out lines. There was a lingering mist over the smooth-surfaced water. As the sun rose, light was cast through tall trees. It entered the lake in a way that illuminated submerged logs, rock, and fish for our view. A few ducks glided by and landed on the water. We could clearly hear their wings cut through the air.
The third was when our family stayed at Moclips Beach on the coast. I rose early before the sun to greet the water’s edge at a low tide. As the ocean roared, I cast my vision north, and then south, along the beach. As far as I could see, I was the only human soul out there.
I have now edited these stories. They were no longer isolated moments in time where I “encountered God” and that was the end of the story. Such thinking falls short. It is far more fulfilling when such is coupled with a “paying forward,” in an expression of thanksgiving. One can still do this well after the fact. It can be applied to any part of God’s creation; for what you have received, you then give. Use your imagination to what form this might take and act upon it.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for 30 years.