Through the Hills
Yesterday afternoon, I had an opportunity to travel to Evansville, IN to visit a new client that I am working with. In the more than 30 years that I have lived in Indiana, I have never been to Evansville or the surrounding countryside. Having arrived in the dark last night, I couldn’t see much of the landscape, but I do admit that when I awoke this morning, the sun was shining brightly and it started out to be a beautiful day. In fact, I was really taken with the view. Now don’t get me wrong. We’re not talking the mountains of West Virginia or the forests of Pennsylvania. But there is something calming about traveling through the hills of southern Indiana.
In fact, it’s that balance between the boring cornfields 0n the way to Chicago and the endless mountains around Charleston, West Virginia. I guess that southern Indiana reminds me of Oklahoma, with the oil rigs and pastures, and a little more relief in the landscape that the flat plains of the upper midwest. Come to think of it, we live in quite a country, don’t we? The size allows for all sorts of of different topography and it’s amazing how we can watch television shows and know almost immediately what part of the country is being featured.
When Janet and I went to Alaska several years ago, we once again experienced unusual landscape that we hadn’t ever seen before. The same with Florida, California, the southwest and every other region of the country when we made our first trips to those locations as well. But in the end, I guess we are both old fashioned midwesterners. The change of the seasons, the dependability of the people, the ease of getting around (unlike New York, New Jersey or Chicago) and the fact that this is a great place to raise the children are all reasons that we never mind returning home. Today was no exception for me.
God, through His Son, Jesus, created all the earth and everything natural in or on it. The various landscapes, the climates and all the animals that dot the countryside. Yes, even the oil underground in the rolling hills of the southern part of the state. So although I spent 9 hours in the car during the last 24 hours, I have enjoyed just contemplating the majesty of God’s creation and the solitude of time with the Creator. I even passed the exit for the St. Meinrad seminary in southern Indiana. Basically, it is a Catholic school of theology that also includes guest quarters and programs for visitors to stay and enjoy the solitude of a retreat center while in communion with God.
In fact, although I have never been there myself, many of my Catholic friends have gone there, as well as a number of others who enjoy the time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Just driving through the countryside, I can see how people would enjoy their time at the Archabbey. There is an area of St. Meinrad’s that includes a monastic community – a group of people who live simple lives devoted to God and to each other. A life of simplicity, living off the land as much as possible. Not so many years ago, St. Meinrad’s even started a line of caskets, make by local craftsmen with local products. This endeavor has allowed the monastery to remain largely independent.
All in all, it is a quiet, peaceful place, and it was almost as if I could feel the solitude as I drove by. The verse for tonight is from Paul in the book of Romans. We are told by him, in Rom. 14:19, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” In other words, enjoy whatever God has created so as to promote peace and the building up of one another. Wise words for all of us.
So tonight my encouragement is that God created nature for our benefit. It was part of the perfect “nest” that God built for us way back in the beginning of the creation story. And manmade places such as St. Meinrad are there to assist us in building up our relationship with the Father and His Son, Jesus. My prayer is that you will notice creation around you and some day, you may even enjoy a time of solitude in communion with God. In the meantime, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…