"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."

Okay, so Muir is probably talking about his beloved Yosemite when he said this, but in my imaginations, when I think about nature's ability to offer such beauty as to heal and give strength, I think of Colorado.  In particular, I think of Buena Vista (BV).  BV is a fairly nondescript little town apart from the powerful beauty that envelopes it in every direction;  the Sangre de Cristo Range with numerous 14'ers and the powerful mountain run-off of the Arkansas River.  There is fabulous fly fishing, jeeping, and hiking of every variety and skill level.

But that is only a small part of what draws me back.

BV is also the spiritual headwaters for my family.  We've been able to spend many precious summer days there and many of the defining experiences of our spiritual journey are sourced from particularly from Young Life's Frontier and TrailWest ranches:

  • TrailWest Ranch - where we first flexed the muscles of freedom for our children out of the legalism that caged them in their early years.  A place where we took baby steps in inviting others on the journey toward the abundant life we were finding.  An outpost where my three eldest all served other families in their summers.
  • Frontier Ranch - where I took kids as a youth leader in my early 20's.  Where my older children attended camp, claimed a personal relationship with their true Father, and served others toward that same end.  It is also a place where men's and women's retreat experiences redefined the course of the spiritual journey of my wife and I.  Healing, restoration, new identity, spirit of sonship, and interpreted calling where all initially discovered and understood here at nearly at 9,000 feet elevation.

So, you can imagine, when we found out the incredible generosity of our good friend Stacy would allow us to stay in her home there for over two weeks, our entire family was completely elated.

My soon-to-be son-in-law responded to the "family" text with:

"That is the best news I have heard since I read the gospels."

Great response, but I think the fact that his finance (my daughter) would be just down the road from the camp (TrailWest) he is serving at this Summer, likely had something to do with that response.  It got me thinking, however, about the best things I have ever heard.  This is what I came up with and texted back to him:

1. "He is risen!" 2. "I do." 3. "It's a boy." 3. "It's a girl." 3. "It's a girl." 3. "It's a boy." 3. "It's a girl." 3. "It's a girl." 4. "Dad, she said yes!" 4. "Dad, I'm engaged!" 5. We're headed to BV for over 2 weeks.

The two weeks in BV only ranked fifth, but there was a whole lot of life ranking just in front of it.

That is when I realized that it isn't mostly about the powerful aesthetic of those incredible surroundings in BV.  I realized what so many young people lost in casual adventures in evocative places, have not:  If all that beauty is not referenced to, sourced from, evocative of, and inviting you further into the Father heart of God, it falls tragically short of the glory intended.

Creation is not so beautiful and powerful as when it is shared with the Creator and those He has invited you into lifelong love relationship with.  It is, or course, breathtakingly beautiful, but it is most powerfully evocative and transformative through the experiences had with those we've shared it with.  BV is in my top five, but only because of my top four.

I want more of all of that.

Thank you Stacy.