Monday’s dawning came in dark tones of gray. A rumbling of thunder rolled me awake into some sort of thin consciousness, a reluctant rising. The rain came too light to darken the concrete beneath the thicker branches of the elm tree but heavy enough to ruin the planting of flowers in the bareness between the driveway and the corner of the house.
I headed to work.
An hour later, a small group of colleagues headed east on US-166 toward Independence, Kansas. The rain had let up but low clouds as far as we could see made it look as though we could find rain again at any given moment.
About thirty miles out, we passed over a ridge. Miles of low scraggy hills filled a fifteen mile gap toward the next ridge. This is not the majestic rise of the Rockies or the moody weight of the Smokies but the Flint Hills here in southern Kansas have a beauty of their own. A beauty of low scrub brush marking the lines of creeks and ditches. A beauty of hard-shelled pastures in thin soil. A beauty of remarkable openness and space, strangely green for the last week of July in a place where the heat index has tipped the three-digit mark for most of the last twenty days or more.
These hills do not yield the inspirational awe of stone-edged mountains that rise miles above the plains. They do not bring the mystical aura of low fog easing over the bluffs and snaking along the low line of deep valleys. But they do bring a healing sort of soothing, a gentle softening of life’s hard edges.
A man could stand here for hours, or sit on a small outcropping of limestone in the midst of wild weed blooming. He could look about as far as eye can see over mile after mile of rugged rolling land, spotted by herds of Angus and Shorthorn and a dozen other breeds. He could find his mind eased away from whatever it was that started such a day. Should he choose to do so, he could pray with eyes wide open and see the very hand of God spread about him.
And feel his spirit calmed by a greater Spirit, his heart soothed by something near and good.
There are times when we need the grandeur of inspiration, the mystery of shrouded vales. But today, and many days, we need the calm and tender touch of something vastly greater than us, yet somehow near and clear. A reminder that in the midst of all that grinds away at us, there are springs and streams that bring a soft and silent serene renewal, something sent from the Source that gives us life.