When I was young and travelled to St. Louis on Interstate 55, I’d strain to see from how far away I could see the Arch. My sisters and I would often have contests, and while they might have had height advantage, I sat in the middle – usually not the preferred seat – which gave me a less obstructed view out the front windshield.
When I travelled on a school bus for a field trip, shouts of “I see it!” rang out long before the Arch was visible. Once the Arch was actually in view, most strained to see it, so they could join in the chorus. There were usually several who were experiencing the sight for the first time.
The Arch is an architectural feat. It reflects the sunlight, clouds, water, and buildings with vibrancy. It stands as the tallest national monument, and it’s as wide as it is tall. Building from both sides, the margin of error was 1/64th of an inch for the two legs to meet at the top. And that’s before computer technology! And yet, it wasn’t all the facts that made me, as a child, anticipate the sight of the Arch. It was something about seeing something much bigger than me. Something I knew was going to be there. A marker to remind me where I was.
I still anticipate seeing the Arch, but it’s not nearly as joy-filled…not because I’m older but because it’s more difficult to see. Where my eyes are trained to scan and search for a glimpse of the Arch is now filled with garbage…literally. Apparently, someone thought the otherwise unused land in Madison County would be a great place for a landfill to accomodate the St. Louis area trash. A landfill that now stands over 170-feet, taller than nearby Cahokia Mounds’ Monks Mound, the tallest remaining unearthed structure north of Mexico.
The landfill isn’t as tall as the Arch…but it obscures all but the very top of the Arch until I pass the sprawling landfill. The Arch is a structure of wonder. The landfull is a pile of mess. The Arch is solid. It’s a place people can visit and marvel. The landfill is off limits to unauthorized personnel because of it’s instability. Of course, I’m not sure who would want to visit except the hoards of birds that swoop in for their treasures.
I didn’t notice the landfill until it obscured my view of the Arch. Now as I approach St. Louis, instead of anticipating the sight of the Arch and considering and appreciating the scope of it, I see a massive pile of earth-covered junk. I think of wastefulness, greed, materialism, gluttony, selfishness…
I consider all the things that I let pile up, often trying to bury them somewhere I won’t notice them much. I consider how as I bury my junk, the pile grows. And it obscures the view of something more beautiful and awe-inspiring. My eyes might be trained to watch for and appreciate God in my life, but how are my daily habits affecting my view?
How are your daily habits affecting your relationship with God?
And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turn—Zion! God in full view! Psalm 84:5-7 (The Message)