This is the time of life when spontaneous decisions are possible. This is the season of wanderlust and wonders. This is the time when you can live cheaply and everyone expects it. So when my dad sent me an email last Wednesday, telling me Frontier had $15 airline tickets, it was the time of life to go.
Within an adrenaline filled hour, I’d talked to friends and we’d purchased airline tickets. The destination I chose was the furthest for the cheapest—Denver. I had to google Denver in the middle of the intense ticket buying process, just to confirm I knew where it was. I was going to go Rocky Mountain climbing in Colorado. In three days.
By the time we were on our airplane, we still didn’t know quite what we were going to do. I’d checked out a few guide books from the library. These library books were supplemented with great hope. We had grand ambitions and excitement that couldn’t be squelched, because, after all, this was the time for hope, for anxious anticipation, and for cheap spontaneous trips across the country and across the vast expanse called life.
The air felt different, not in a bad way. It was simply thinner, fresher almost. It was like everyone said it would be, but it is also difficult to understand until you breathe it. Why is air, something we all so desperately need, so difficult to describe?
We arrived to Denver with smiles, exited the airport with excitement, and I chased down the rental car shuttle with a bit too much exuberance. Then, we were adults. Like in the game of life, these three travelling college kids had to decide whether or not to get protection and liability on our rental car. Soon we were on our way. Denver or Red Rocks, we didn’t care where we went as long as food was involved. In search of lunch, we accidentally stumbled upon “Taste of Colorado,” one of the largest festivals in the region. After much hungry debate, we bought tickets, split them up, and sampled tiny bits of food. Stephanie and Nathan tried cranberry wings; I sampled some pulled pork, and we put our last three tickets together to try confetti popcorn that was fruity flavored and therefore completely disgusting. We walked through the festival to the capitol building. Three markers represented different measurements of 5,280 feet above sea level. We took a picture of each of us at a different point to ensure one of us was indeed standing a mile high. From further up, the fair stretched wide and the Rockies completed the panoramic view. We walked to the beautiful Catholic Church and accidently entered with the Bishop. Our first stops in Denver all yielded accidental wonder, fitting for an unintentional trip to the west.
After a more satisfying lunch than fruity popcorn, we set out to find a blue bear that we’d seen a few times. Finding the bear proved more difficult than we imagined, and we debated whether or not to give up. As the driver, Nathan made the decision, “I’m pursuing this blue bear.” Wrong ways, one ways, and blocked ways ended our pursuit in defeat. So we headed out of the city to see the beckoning nature. I suppose the GPS wanted revenge for the many times we disobeyed her on our search for the blue bear, because instead of taking us to the Red Rocks, she took us to Dinosaur Ridge. The three of us were just along for the ride of the trip anyway, so we stopped, took some selfies with a dinosaur, and asked for directions.
Six more miles, and we found what we’d been looking for. We found much more. Massive red rocks jutted out of the ground like they’d been dropped there. Stephanie kept repeating, “it’s not real. It’s just not real,” a phrase I’ve heard her proclaim when she talks about my puppy or anytime she bubbles up in overflowing joy. It didn’t seem real or possible, but because its existence was undeniable, it was all the more majestic.
“He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.” Psalm 33:5
In a move very unusual for me, I read nary a sign about why the rocks were red. So my imagination filled in the gaps. And as I remembered this psalm, I wondered. Maybe the rocks are red because the earth is full of the steadfast love. Love that is strong like the immovable rocks that tower so tall and red like passion and blood: this love fills the earth.
Later that night, we watched a magnificent sunset from the parking lot of a Super Target. The color of the sky was the same as the color of earth we’d seen earlier. We’d walked in the footprints of dinosaurs. We laughed together, and it seemed a bit easier to believe that the whole earth is full of the steadfast love of Christ. His love doesn’t stop pursuing us, though we take wrong ways and admit defeat too early. Like the very air we breathe, it is oh so necessary and oh so difficult to describe. It doesn’t seem real, but the fact that it is, makes it all the more beautiful. It’s ancient and strong, but still alive, this mysterious and magnificent love of Christ. And during our next few days in Colorado, it became even more apparent that the earth is full of that love.