Mountains, spirit and our place in the world

Different people sense the spiritual, their relationship to God and their place in the world in different ways. I have found my inspiration in mountains.

In using the word “God” I include Allah, Jehovah, Brahman or whatever unnamed presence you feel in the beauty and wonder of nature and in one’s fellow beings.

Two locations and their views illustrate this for me.

One is in a deep glacier-carved valley on the road to Milford Sound in New Zealand. Massive cliffs rise on both sides from the flat valley floor, culminating in Mount Crosscut five thousand feet above. These walls are made of an especially hard and tough granite which will stand through many ages.

It speaks to me of strength, permanence and shelter.

The second is the view from a thousand feet above New Zealand’s Hooker Valley in full view of Mount Cook. After climbing a thousand steep feet, I have ascended only a fraction of the distance to the summits. I see an elevation range of 9,500 feet from Mount Cook to the lake near its feet. Other ridges and summits, though not so high, are still thousands of feet above me. A glacier fills the valley above the lake. I hear the rumble of icefalls.

The view speaks to me of space, of size, of a scale which is impossible to comprehend, of a  world opening up beyond distant horizons. It speaks of creation happening all around me.

I feel that this beauty, sense of strength, shelter, and immense scale and space is an invitation to fully recongnize our membership in God’s wonderful world and of God’s presence in it and in us. It is an invitation to realize that I, and each one of us, warts and all, is fully accepted, blessed, and made full members of this grand creation which is still happening.


About David McCoard

After earning my MS in geology I've done various things including managing the ski touring program at a small lodge in the Sierra. In 2010 I retired from Contra Costa College in California. I've always been fascinated by the mountains and nature and have spent countless days hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing in the Sierra. The spiritual insights I've learned there have set the course for my life. Now I have time to share them and strike up a conversation.
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