Schmemann’s influence in the High Sierra

I sit on the side of a mountain. The sun beats down, shining on my head and illuminating all that is around with an intense light. Tall, tall pines stand and sway in the wind that is the result of the air exchange between the hot valley and the snow-covered peaks. Two squirrels play on the boulder-sized rocks nearby. A mountain blue jay has just lighted in the dust in front of me. The squirrels and the jay look at me expectantly, tamed by human proximity to this state of hubris. I disappoint them by continuing to write. They scurry and fly away.

I hear the wind wooshing down the mountain. The sound of it moving through the millions of 5 to 7 inch needles on the pines is absolutely pentecostal. The trees sway and shower me and the tent and the table and the ground with green pollen dust. There is so much pine pollen the air is hazy and green tinged. A lone hawk turns overhead and cries. The grasses dance, their full ripe heads bending low on slender necks.

I see two camps 100 and 150 yards further up the mountain and I can just make out the road sounds from the highway, out of sight, down the mountain when the wind drops. And a little way down the hill I hear-but do not see-another camp.

Over the rush of wind and the far distant traffic there is the blare of a boombox, bellowing bilious tunes from the 70’s. Way too loud for public. “How incongruous,” I think at first. And then I realized my error.

God created humanity to live in love and to take the beauty and wonder and joy of creation and offer it back to Him. The priesthood of humanity is found in that ministry of thankful offering back to God, as we pray, “All things come of Thee.” And yet we humans focus on our enjoyment rather than the Lord’s provision. We spread out our presence and broadcast our own noise rather than bask in His presence, and share His word or listen to Him speak. Some of this is innocence and ignorance. Mostly it is fear.

We are afraid of being in the presence of God. We fear listening to the Lord speak to us. And our fear encourages us to drown out and cover up that which we should be offering back to Him to transform. The innocence and ignorance comes from our neglect and our forgetfulness. Our parents and our parents’ parents neglected to teach and show us God’s ways. They and we have neglected the truth that is ours in Him. We have an awesome task ahead if we will listen and help.


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