Utah 2016

The four of us set out.

Granted a week to do as we pleased, we took it and we went.

We were bound not by constraints of time or obligation, and in this freedom, we set our sights on nothing in particular except the chance to slow the revolutions of the earth and enjoy ourselves. We did not even know what we were looking for behind the rocks and between the mountains. But we believed we would know it when we saw it.

There was thus nothing spectacular about our plans, nothing guiding our coming here or going there.

We simply fled to explore, seeking to discover what it meant to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if we could not learn what it had to teach. We did not wish to live that which is not life, for living is so dear. We wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

To give in with abandon to the wonder that lives within the deep of us.

And give in we did, with stupid joy.

We made fools of ourselves. Fools we were in front of nobody, but before everything.

Not even Shakespeare in his finest hour could touch the beauty that lived in the extravagant simplicity of it all.

How is that?

Who woke up one morning and decided life begins at the end of the road? Where our only option is to say yes to climbing with our hands and scraping our knees in order to get a glimpse at beauty, in order to understand just a little bit better what the poet meant by singing hills and dancing waves.

Why couldn’t the likes of Shakespeare, Thoreau, and even David capture completely the majesty of expanses and the sacredness of arches like these?

And then, who are we?

Where is our place in all of this?

A poet once claimed that in the midst of landscapes like these, he at knew at once he was not magnificent.

And the voice from inside screamed the same to us.

And it almost had us convinced.

Are we not more finite than this? More fleeting than the gusts above the cliffs, more fragile than the water-carved canyons, more inconsistent than the saw-tooth ridges that watched over the same landscape an epoch ago?

But the voice from the deep, the one to which we listen when life seems to ignore our best attempts to survive, that voice told us we were far more magnificent, more beloved than the all of it.

And when we made the decision to give into that voice life was turned upside down and we found we were being wooed by wonder.

The mountains and the expanses and the streams and the sunsets and the arches and the flowers and the hares and the deer – they were for us.

And thus, should all things really be on earth as in heaven, then we choose to listen to the One calling us to the places like these that give us a glimpse of the life abundant.

J-Term 2016 from John Marshall on Vimeo.


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