The High Places

Photo by Elrena Evans

My eyes are drawn to the treetops, the clouds, the high places. That nest at the tippy-top of the huge maple on the way to my daughter’s school…I see it. The hawk sitting quietly on the telephone pole…I notice her. The sprinkle of many wings high up in the frosting swirled sky…I admire them.

I remember the day I first really knew trees had individual, beautifully shimmering leaves. That day in fifth grade when I came out of the doctor’s office and raised my eyes, viewing the world through those brand new (but terribly ugly) granny glasses. The green, the detail, the beauty…I could not get enough of the big oak trees on my street. Maybe that’s why I still look up.

Then again, maybe it’s that little thing called discontent. The stuff of earth does seem horribly drab some days, and the everyday to and fro can seem “vanity of vanities” as the famous Ecclesiastes preacher says. I long to fly, to see things without my feet firmly on humdrum ground. I like the feeling of reaching the top of a trail and looking out across tips and peaks of cold white or brilliant green. I love gazing out of an airplane window especially when the clouds compose a world of castles and mountains that all but block out the common greens and browns of the earth below.

The stuff of earth does seem horribly drab some days, and the everyday to and fro can seem “vanity of vanities” as the famous Ecclesiastes preacher says. I long to fly…

I remember graduating into the cross country field when I was learning to jump horses. Jumping out of that closed-in arena and streaking across the field to fly over fences and walls, watery ditches and barred obstaclesI loved the exhilaration, the freedom, the rush of things moving so quickly that you could not see until the slow-motion soaring up, up, and over. That split second hanging in the air where you almost felt that time stopped and the world around and below came sharply into focus. That was joy. That was living.

These days, the soaring feeling is harder to come by. There are more daily responsibilities than in those cross country jumping days. The thrill of gorgeous vistas is not an everyday thing. And I suppose it’s easy to live for the high places. But those high places can be idols. The simple act of looking up can always be enough. The nests, the hawk, the sprinkle of many wings, the shimmer of green leaves on the trees…the Lord God made them all. There is great beauty here in these moments, and in that deep beauty, there is satisfaction. There can be contentment.

Today, I’m looking up. I’m humming the tune to that song from college days:

I lift my eyes up
To the heavens
Where does my help come from
My help comes from you
Maker of heaven
Creator of the earth.

What beautiful gifts will I behold?

Amy Knorr is an educator and freelance writer living in Pennsylvania Amish country. She has a passion for speaking and facilitating community learning. She is married to a scientist who makes her laugh, and has two little girls who make her laugh harder. She blogs at One Step to Blue, where this article first appeared.

Editor’s note: For a high places-related treat, listen to Amy Kuney’s beautiful song “Bird’s Eye View“!

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