Robust Living

20 09 2010

Robust Living

Mountain flowers cover the high altitude pastures and tundra this time of year.  Mountain meadows and the highlands of Colorado are covered with the light pink, flaming red, and sky blue of Columbine, Black Snakeroot, Boltonia, and Balloon Flower.  Last week Liz and I hiked the talus slopes and alpine meadows of the Crags[i].  With each turn in the trail, the mountain flowers, craggy cliffs, and golden hue of Aspen leaves in fall transition, filled our eyes with the light of God’s creative pulchritude and nobility.  Our eyes were filled to overflowing with the richness and uniqueness of God’s creative power.  Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye.  Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.” (Luke 11:34a)  We rediscovered these words as our eyes swelled with the stunning beauty of the highlands.

As Liz and I traversed this mountain trail we both were brimming over with a passionate ardor to pray and worship God.  It was intoxicating to take in the life of creation.  Allowing our eyes to drink in the artistry of God, our mind and spirit was enlivened with joy and thankfulness.  I was reminded of the lines from the Robert Frost poem,

He would declare and could himself believe
That the birds there in all the garden round
From having heard the daylong voice of Eve
Had added to their own an oversound,
Her tone of meaning but without the words.
Admittedly an eloquence so soft
Could only have had an influence on birds
When call or laughter carried it aloft.
Be that as may be, she was in their song.
Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed
Had now persisted in the woods so long
That probably it never would be lost.
Never again would birds’ song be the same.
And to do that to birds was why she came.[ii]

To hear the birds “oversound” and to be reminded of the voice of Eve in that unblemished celestial garden brought praise to our lips.  Nature speaks of the glory and voice of God.  The Bible echoed our feelings, “the heavens declare the glory of God.”

Almost simultaneous to our euphoric feeling was anguish.  A forlorness for so many we have known through the years having never seen such beauty nor deeply known the love of God.  It is interesting that the second half of the words of Jesus are, “…But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.” It has been our unfortunate experience to see many of our Christian friends drifting away from relationships with other believers and their faith in God.  The aftermath has been bitterness, depression, and in most cases, devastation. Their change of eyesight has flooded their lives with darkness.  It’s really sad to watch.

T.S. Eliot once wrote, “We had the experience, but missed the meaning.”  I am coming to believe that many so called “Christians” have never really deeply and profoundly touched the inner workings of a robust faith in God.  They had the experience but missed the true meaning.  They experienced the rules, religion, and outward workings of American Churchianity, but never really caught the real virus of a love relationship with Jesus.  Their eyes were never filled with the incisive ultraviolet light of God’s acceptance, but rather a 40 watt bulb kind of faith—the kind of light that never penetrates the body or saves the soul!

I want a robust faith and vigorous life!  I want to let the light in.  I want to let the landscapes of life reflect an inner landscape of energetic living.  What poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called the inscape.  Ron Dart explains,

Just as there are solid mountains, transient clouds, seasonal flowers, rushing and dry streams, bright and turbulent weather, and shady forests in the outer life and landscape, the same things exist in the inner life or inscape.  The hidden languages of landscape and inscape are there for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.[iii]

So often the life we live today robs us of inscape as we escape into a frantic pace of living.  Our tendency is to rush through life with one more appointment, one more project, and one less relationship.  Yet God is inviting us into life—robust living, that encounters God everywhere.  It is the inscape of beauty, deeply drinking of Jesus and His love for us.  It is the inscape of the Holy Spirit, whose voice calls us to a sixth sense of faith and perceptivity.

I have spent many hours traversing mountain tops and valley lowlands hiking, hunting and fishing.  The times on the river and in the deep pine forest have given me times to think deeply and pray earnestly.  As the years go by, as the fourth quarter of my life has begun, I make it my profound prayer to live with rapture, potency, and vitality.  To give out the light even as it pours in.  Robust living!

Carpe Diem Gloriae Dei,


[i] A popular hiking trail outside of Divide, Colorado.

[ii] Never Again Would bird Songs be the Same by Robert Frost

[iii] Ron Dart, When Mountain Meets Valley, Fresh Wind Press, p.10, 2005.



2 responses

20 09 2010
Hank & Gail

Steve, you wax poetically. You sounded relaxed when you wrote this.


22 09 2010

Pastor Steve, I never realized how articulate of a writer you are. I agree with Hank; that you sounded quite relaxed writing this. It brought me back to Colorado and the many times I had spent in the mountains when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing

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