Hallett Peak reflected in Bear Lake, about 45 minutes from the cabin
I read a fascinating article in the NY Times Travel section entitled, Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer: Cultured Traveler, by Eric Weiner. Weiner describes these places in this way:
I’m drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breathe again. It turns out these destinations have a name: thin places. They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever.
Travel to thin places does not necessarily lead to anything as grandiose as a “spiritual breakthrough,” whatever that means, but it does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Either way, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.
The ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians, used the term to describe mesmerizing places like the wind-swept isle of Iona (now part of Scotland) or the rocky peaks of Croagh Patrick. Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter.
Mircea Eliade, the religious scholar, writing in his classic work “The Sacred and the Profane,” observed that “some parts of space are qualitatively different from others.” An Apache proverb takes that idea a step further: “Wisdom sits in places.”
Often, in such places, time burst its banks. I was awash in time. That’s a common reaction to a thin place. It’s not that we lose all sense of time but, rather, that our relationship with time is altered, softened. Many thin places are wild, untamed, but cities can also be surprisingly thin.
I was drawn to the piece, because God revealed Himself to me in the Rocky Mountains, and I am drawn back year after year. I had never heard the term ‘thin places’ before seeing this article, but certainly know the feelings expressed. As we were selling the business, Genie and I decided to build a cabin in the Colorado mountains. We bought a house in Nederland in 1999, and in 2000 began to scout for property on which to build.
Our agent described a 40 acre parcel they had listed as the most beautiful land she had seen on the market in a decade. In early January, 2000, she drove us up to see the property. We drove through foot-deep snow drifts in the ¾ mile road through the National Forest to the land. As we turned the last corner, we came out of the woods and a view opened up.
The land is in the Montane zone at 9000 feet, and views include Gold Lake, the Front Range and plains beyond, the Continental Divide and two Fourteeners, Mt Evans and Longs Peak. Foundations were in place, and a road built. There was a small peak behind the house, and from the top, you can see 360 degrees. Ponderosa, Lodgepole and Limber Pines mix with Douglas Firs and Aspen groves.
We were speechless, stilled by the beauty. Genie and I walked the property for a few minutes and looked at each other. We shared the same thoughts, “This is the place.” We did not look at another parcel. We wrote a contract, left for Atlanta, and purchased the place before seeing it a second time.
Since then, we built the cabin, creating a home place where family and friends have gathered for a decade now. As we explore the land, it continues to give up its secrets to us. Black Bears, Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Coyotes, Foxes, Hawks, Eagles and Owls all hunt the property. Moose, Elk and Mule Deer graze on the meadow grasses. Squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits abound. The quiet is almost unnerving. When the wind dies, you experience silence rarely seen in the world today.
We have marked trails into the surrounding forest. We hike the land in the summer, ski and snowshoe up and down the mountains in winter. God continues to reveal HImself through the beauty and interdependent ecology of life on the mountain. Wildflowers begin to bloom within a week of the snowmelt, and continue until the snows return. We feed many beautiful birds, including woodpeckers and hummingbirds, and observe them nesting and raising young. Once we saw four Golden Eagles at once, as parents taught their young to hunt our mountain meadows.
God continues to reveal His mysteries as we spend weeks and months admiring the beauty of His creation surrounding our cabin. We hold spiritual retreats there, and have offered our loft as a sabbatical space for pastors. Prayers and plans have turned from dreams to visions as people seek the solitude to find a new way of seeing. Often, it is when we get out of our routine that sparks of imagination and creativity flow. In Jeremiah, we read the promise, “If you seek God with all your heart, you will find Him.” When you wander the trails of Eagle Peak, you will get glimpses of God’s glory through His created world. It is a place where heaven and earth come nearer. Here is an article describing How Backpacking can put you in touch with your Inner Saint.
After looking at the pictures and narrative in this post, click the links below for more photos and stories about living on the Front Range. For more on living off grid, hiking trails, fly fishing, travel and wildlife, check out my Wild Living section.
Sunrises, Sunsets and Rainbows at Eagle Peak
It only took three days to stack the logs. Took three weeks to build the roof.
My son, Andy, worked as a carpenter as we built the cabin.
You can see our cabin with Longs Peak and Rocky Mountain National Park in the Background.
Looking from the deck on the house where our cat was hanging out. The owl was looking intently at the cat while being harassed by jays.
Sitting on our fence looking at the bird feeder
Bloom poking through the snow
Often on a Saturday morning, from the deck of the cabin we can see Hot Air Balloons taking off over Boulder.
Twin Sisters is a peak in Rocky Mountain National Park that we have climbed.