A friend of mine had her baby shower today at a restaurant on a hill overlooking the Las Vegas Valley. From the windows facing North, I could see the whole Strip skyline and clear to the opposite side of the valley. It was a breathtaking sight. But walking around to the South-facing windows, just mountains. That view evoked a whole different feeling. As much as I enjoyed the spectacle of the miles and miles before my eyes to the North - I was almost physically drawn to sit at a table on the mountain side and absorb that panorama.
There's something about mountains. Enjoying them today, I thought of Psalm 36:6 - "Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains..." I wonder what all I'm drawn to in mountains. I can see how the Psalmist calls them mighty. I'd call them majestic and strong and permanent and mysterious and pretty and... on and on. I must be in a contemplative mood. I'd like an hour or three or four to go sit and gaze at the mountains. The ones around here are so familiar --- would I rather gawk at the familiar peaks or travel far away to see mountains I've only heard of?
When I look at the nearest mountains, I attach certain memories to them.
Sunrise Mountain is all on its own on the Eastern side of town. It's really Frenchman's mountain, but nobody calls it that. As a young kid, I was hiking there with my family one evening when we stumbled upon a rattlesnake and my dad killed it with a rock. Its skin hung on our patio for years. In high school, our kitchen window had a nice view of Sunrise Mountain and I can remember my mom always appreciating her view while doing the dishes. During UNLV days, Kevin, Heather and I drove up there from time to time late at night to look at the lights and eat Ben & Jerry's. Later, I had a huge realization from that mountain one night that I really was called to ministry in Las Vegas, and it was no longer just my home town - it was also my mission field.
Mount Charleston is an hour North. The place to go to be in the snow when you live in Vegas. The place I broke my leg sledding with my boyfriend and some friends my senior year in high school. Attended church up there for maybe a year (that is a long and weird story for another day). Hiked a thousand hikes; attended and directed a dozen InterVarsity retreats; been to several weddings; sipped a few hot chocolates at the lodge; and now we take our kids to get out of town for half a day.
Red Rock and the Spring Mountains. So pretty. West of here, and not too far. Again, countless hikes, bunches of picnics, outdoor plays, watermelon seed spitting, burro sightings, bike rides, rock climbs, and stories from my dad's Search and Rescue Posse days of helicopter rescues of the "dummies who get themselves stuck on the rocks" as I've heard him say a hundred times. Somehow, in the mood I'm in, being stuck in the mountains sounds kinda nice tonight.