from the air

delta wing

Air travel can fool you: to see vast stretches of American wilderness from the window of an airplane might make you think you’re seeing nothing more than rock. From here, the landscape, though beautiful, appears sterile, inert, undisturbed. No humans dwell there save for a backpacker or two, but even that’s conjecture. The land is still, unmoving.

Of course, that’s only from 35,000 feet. Sure, no person lives there (and thank goodness), but that doesn’t mean nothing does.

east of the grand canyon

Early Monday morning, my mom and I climbed the foothills that press against my grandma’s neighborhood. As we approached, the patchy tans and browns of the mountains took shape, grew into plants—succulents and sage. No longer the distant texture of the earth, the plants became themselves, individual shrubs, grown from individual seed.

foothills of the san gorgonios

Up close, the sage was spindly and unkempt, its arms sprawling every which way, its leathery leaves sprouting here and there, its top crowned with the bristly remains of last season’s flowers. We plucked a leaf and held it to our noses—the warm pungence of sage. Birds flitted under the brush, and holes in the earth led down to snakes.

There’s no barrenness on a mountain, despite the view from a plane. It’s teeming with life.

hillside plants

Knowing that these creatures exist for themselves, that the sage blooms for no one but itself and God—it delights me. The world does not live for us, does not move because we see it move. It has come to be without us and will go on without us.

The trees will clap their hands without us, and the lilies of the field will shine in splendor without us. We should thank our lucky stars that we’re invited to listen and to see.

(This post is one in a November series for NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. You can find the rest here!)

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