While much of the country remains under a heat dome, I escaped the city of Cheyenne yesterday to travel to Snowy Range, west of Laramie, for a hike near the summit. We started hiking around 9:30am, and the temperature had not yet reached 70 degrees. As you can see from the pictures, there is still a fair amount of snow on the ground.
St. Thomas Aquinas and others have referred to nature as God’s First Book. Though only the human person is created in the imago Dei, (the image of God) the rest of creation bears a vestigia Dei (reflects the wisdom of God.) Indeed, creation does not lead us away from God, but rather leads us to God.
Saturday morning’s walk in nature certainly proved this point! Just driving into the trail head, rolling down the windows revealed a clear, crisp, clean mountain air. All morning the word pristine kept coming to mind. The mountain lakes and streams were crystal clear. The sky was a brilliant blue, and the snow and clouds were so white, it pierced the soul and their purity and brilliance defied a sustained glance. All along the trail grass and dainty mountain flowers bloomed. It is no wonder their summer existence is so intoxicating, since they lay dormant beneath the snow most of the year!
All of the colors, flora and fauna, breezes and ripples, sounds and scents, blended so naturally together, lifting the soul to God while a profound peace renewed my spirit. Even the many people who were present did not seem out of place. The whole experience was a reminder of the harmony that IS God, and the unity that is present in all of God’s creation. As Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical last summer, Laudato Si, “all things are related!”
As the heat is forecast to continue across the nation for the coming week, let us pray for those whose lives are threated by this heat. Let us pray also that the severe temperatures do not endure for such a time as to damage the crops which are just entering into critical periods of growth and maturity before harvest. Let us keep in prayer as well those who make their living from the land as well as those who must work outdoors in this searing heat, that they be spared any physical harm. Finally, let us pray for the safety of the many fire fighters who are battling the many blazes throughout the west, and pray that God will send the rains and cooler temperatures to assist them in gaining control of these wildfires.