Growing up in the mountain west gives me a grand enjoyment of the vast. Vast expanses of sky, terrain, and the ability to see hundreds of miles away always causes a pause in my heart. Taking pictures of these moments seems to always leave you wanting. Often there is no scale for you to truly understand the immensity of what you are looking at, a 4X6, 8X10 version seems lame.
The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado was a favorite vacation spot for a few years as the kids were growing up. Hiking the sand dunes, rolling down them, getting sand everywhere. Hiking the river that ran around the outside edge of the dunes, finding where it finally sinks into the sand and has it’s track no more. Hiking the tops of the Dunes looking for fulgurites(lightning strikes on the dunes that leaves a black clump of melted sand). Just be careful of the small black clumps you are excited to pick up!! The Sand Dunes were immense. When you see pictures of this area, the tallest sand dune is 800 feet, just as a reference!!
I loved climbing fourteeners, seeing the panorama for miles and miles. I loved living in the plains and the realization that the middle of nowhere stretches from Mexico to Canada, from the Rocky Mountain to Kansas City. The North Americans plains are immense. I’ve had the privilege of living next to Lake Superior, another marvel of water and cold air masses, nature’s air conditioning and the pleasure of a hot day being disrupted by the change of wind bringing that lake air around me! Turning 80 degrees into 65. The vast can bring the profound.
When it comes to God, we speak about His Immanence and His Transcendence. God’s immanence speaks about Him being close, familiar with our weakness, wanting to be reconciled to us, to be close. God’s transcendence is the big view of God, an old-fashioned extremely large cathedral version of God. If you’ve ever stepped into one of those old cathedrals, you feel small, overwhelmed, sense that whispering is the order of the day rather than shouting. When I think of a verse that is a reminder of Gods transcendence I think of Isaiah 66:1…
“Thus says the Lord; “Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me.?””
Does that make the earth the Ottoman Empire, Dad joke aside… It’s a viewing the Milkway Galaxy at night kind of a moment. It’s immense, vast and overwhelming, too big for me to comprehend, just sit back, look, and be in awe. No need to explain it, shrink it or find a tightly bound overgrown forest to feel surrounded. These vast things are about being laid bare, recognizing how small we are might be a step toward a freedom that you haven’t considered, culture tells us to be the big dog, maybe there’s a better way.
There is a view of God that knocks at the door of our heart and there is also a galaxy of stars put in place by the same God who rules the Galaxy and puts his feet up…on the earth!! Be amazed by the vast, comforted by the close, aware of both sides of the same coin.