On The Mountain – “Savoring”

27 Aug

I drove through the Sierra Nevada mountains the other day on the way to a holiday in northwest Oregon. Coming from the Sonoran Desert and flat Southern California, it didn’t take long for the stunning beauty of the mountains to soften the tensions of cross-country driving. Rugged cliffs, towering pines, flowery meadows…all of it swirled around me and held out arms of welcome. I savored it.

Savor. That’s an interesting word. Savor means to find delight in a particular taste or smell, or, possibly, delight in the luxurious sights of majestic landscape. I savored the miles and the moments.

Now, having arrived at the one-room cabin overlooking the Willamette Valley, I’m doing it all over again. Night is quietly settling over the valley below and the Coastal Range of mountains on the far horizon is beginning to fade into the soft haze. Large glass windows make up one wall of the cabin and through those windows I look out over a grassy, green lawn, then across the tops of grape vines planted in neat vineyard rows, then beyond the tops of tall pines, and finally into the hazy valley that is surrendering to the darkness. I’m savoring again.

I’m thinking, too, of a friend who would look at the same landscape and conclude that this same world is heading toward destruction, that ugliness reigns everywhere, and that all this, plus all that lives in it, must be saved for a better life in the future. And while I agree with part of the premise…there’s enough ugliness to go around…I am more and more persuaded that “savoring” is just as important as “saving.” Those of us who wear religious or spiritual labels understand the “saving” language in our traditions, but what we too often overlook is the pure joy, even the transformative joy, of savoring the unspeakable grandeur of creation’s gifts. I wonder if “savoring” might accomplish the same end as “saving” if we put our hearts and minds to it?

By the way, a synonym for “savor” is to relish, to smack one’s lips in pure delight.

Listen carefully. Did you hear that? It was me smacking my lips.

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