Berthoud on a Cloudy Day

Last weekend I drove to Berthoud Pass. Did you know there’s a trail there? I was unaware, so I went in jeans and a cutesy shirt—definitely not hiking attire. But I’ll go back soon enough and hike at the top of the mountain.

The clouds had started to roll in earlier in the day. It was my last full day of freedom before my life began again  on Monday with a new job and new classes. I had nothing to do after finishing my homework from the summer. My apartment was almost entirely packed and several friends were out of town. So I resorted to an old technique of wasting time: I got in the car and headed west.

The ascent to the Pass is not long, not in my little stick shift. It is long if you get stuck behind a transplant who doesn’t know how to drive on mountain roads; or truck who is struggling to manage the long haul to higher elevations. But on Friday afternoon I did not have either of those problems as I raced to the heights of the pass.

I stood on the edge of the pulloff while a tour bus unloaded for stiff legs, restrooms and pictures. The sky was drenched with heavy grey clouds, twisted and curled above the peaks. The sky was like fabric, tossed into the air, that falls to the ground in a crumpled heap. The layers, dimensions, the shadows and edges–both sharp and smooth–hung patiently over the Rockies, waiting for the wind that would push them away to the East where they might bring the dry land to life. There was grey like slate and blue like the distant sea after a long fought storm. There was curling silver around the tips where sunlight longed to break through.

The peaks were turned a blue brown, those still covered in trees looked black in the faded light. They were shadows, ghosts of ancient worlds that have long since passed. But the mountains remain, striving against the gravity that will eventually be their undoing. They look like waves on seashore, crashing into one another, peak on peak, endless jagged lines thrust against the thick clouds above.

No picture would do them justice. To be honest, no picture ever perfectly presents any sight in creation. Words, I thought as I shivered in my coat amid the thin cold air, words can never explain the beauty that God has given us. Not here in Colorado, nor anywhere else in all the world.

Creation, a professor recently quoted, is a silent orator, shouting the existence and majesty of our God. She cries out that there is more, that she is held together by another, and that this other, this Beyond, is God.

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