God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Wilderness Journey: Mato Tipila - the Bear Lodge's Sacredness

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.   Luke 9:28-36
Devil's Tower
When I was a pastor in Wyoming, one of the pilgrimages you had to make when people came to visit was to the Devil's Tower. They would see it and a cowboy on your license plate and want to go for a visit. This is an amazing geological formation that can bee seen from miles and miles away. As you drive toward it, you get this feeling that you are never getting any closer. The approach from the south makes you wind around and around. The journey to the Tower was a wilderness journey for us. Coming from Casper, you cross very few people and even fewer towns. There is just wide open spaces, caribou running, and tumble weed blowing. As you pull into the park, the first sign you run into is "Do Not Feed the Prairie Dog's." There is this field as you enter that is the home of prairie dogs.

After you you park, and walk toward the visitor's center there is a sign that explains this is a sacred religious site for Native American tribes. Most people moved right into hiking around the base or getting their gear ready to climb to the top. As you are there at the bottom where you can see how there massive rocks have fallen off and are just lying around the bottom. You wonder about the wisdom of people climbing up the side of the Tower. But for me, I stopped at the sign. I read about the sacredness of this space. For Native Americans this is a space where they draw closer to God. This is a place of prayer and ceremony for the original people's of this land.
So as we stood there at the foot of the Tower I was disconcerted by seeing all of these people climbing up the side of the Tower. For in order to begin their climb they had to pass by these prayers that has been tied to the trees at the foot of the Tower.

Prayers floating in the breeze.

And the tap tap tap of hammers as the climbers put wholes into the rock so they could say they ascended the Tower.


White people climbing a rock for fun.

Prayers and a feeling a sacredness and wonder.
A modern pilgrimage to conquer the top.
Prayers and Wonder.
A place to leap off the top of with your parachute to get down the easy way.
Renaming of the site from  Mato Tipila, which means “Bear Lodge,”  or Grey Horn Butte, He Hota Paha, Bear Rock or Bear Mountain, Tree Rock, and Grizzly Bear Lodge. The first white people took one name the Bad God's Tower to the Devil's Tower.
A place of prayer becomes a Devil's Tower making it easier to see it as a site to conquer, to try your skills at.
A place of prayer.
the base of the Mato Tipila
 While my son and his uncle took the short trail around the base of the Tower, I sat at its foot and prayed. I stopped there for a moment to rest in the presence of God. I stopped there and prayed for those who had left prayers at the foot of the Tower. I prayed that we would one day experience the presence of God where others have prayed for generations. I was still and quiet, waiting, listening, hoping.

Last week's Gospel story from Luke was the transfiguration. Jesus head ups the mountain to pray. Jesus sees mountains as places where you got away and connected with God, a place where you took time to pray, a place of where God drew closer.

As we begin our Lenten journey this week, I am reminded  of this encounter in a sacred place where a place of prayer had become a place of recreation. I wanted to be reminded of the beauty and sacredness where we stop from our normal life and invite God to be present with us. This lent I hope we can take time to stop in those sacred places and listen for God and allow God to draw near to us. I hope we be reminded that God draws near to us in moments and times that cause us to leave behind the ordinary and rest in the stillness of God's Peace.

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