Today, I am leaving the Big Sky Country of Billings, Montana after staying here for a few days. My father was born here and grew up nearby on the Crow Nation reservation.
What impresses me is the huge sky above the plains that nothing really interrupts. I have a keen eye for the obvious; I know. It makes me want to burst out in song, “On a clear day, you can see forever,” even though I am not normally that exuberant. There is something distinctive about the great blue sky, which inspires artists to paint the sandy and rocky or green and rolling landscapes. The moon in the night black sky without light pollution has a certain simplicity to it. (Billings does not care to populate each road with streetlights.)
If you have read my blogposts or tweets, you have discovered my appreciation of nature and how God is revealed to me there. Diana Butler Bass has recently written an excellent book Grounded: Finding God in the World – A Spiritual Revolution, which I highly recommend. She posits that our American culture is undergoing a spiritual revolution from a distant, transcendent God to a more intimate God whom we may closely experience. She begins by discussing God-with-us in dirt, water and sky:
Dirt and water are understandable and tangible, icons of earthy sacredness. But we need the sky to remind us that no matter how close God is, God is still the One who hovers at the horizon.
God is not above us, but rather beyond our sight. At the edge, at the horizon, God is the sacred mystery. This reminds us of what is unknowable about God. God is greater than our vision and imagination.
As I stand on the prairie looking out at the line where the sky touches the earth, I feel so small where I stand. And I feel an inner urge to speak to the Horizon One who created all.
(Written on 10-27-15)