I drove down from the 5400 ft. elevation headed east on I-40. My job was to drive, plain and simple. Kids and grandkids were moving 920 miles east from their home in northwest New Mexico to east Texas. I asked how I could help, they answered: drive. So there I was descending the foothills of the Rockies around Albuquerque toward the plains of eastern New Mexico and the Panhandle in a two car caravan with son, daughter-in-law, two dogs, luggage, and the two prettiest grandchildren in the universe.
If you have ever made that particular trip from central New Mexico through the Panhandle and down into Texas, you may think, "boring, nothing at all to see." Well, in one sense true, but beauty often hides among the mundane, the unusual among the usual, the extraordinary among the ordinary. If you know how and where to look, even in the desert, you will find it. Some days it's easier to find the beauty, other days you have to look really close, some days it is breathtakingly obvious.
Before getting out of Albuquerque I had noticed them in the distance. The deep, blue darkness of the eastern horizon topped by the bright, shining whiteness of thunderstorms. I wondered as we moved along I-40 at 75 mph how long before we would catch the storms. In them may be hail, 60 mph winds, and blinding rain, all of which I had just soon avoid. In the meantime I purposed to enjoy them. I guestimated their distant at between 50 to 100 miles from us. The beauty of distant thunderstorms in the foothills and out over the plains is difficult to explain but nonetheless magnificent. The rolling and roiling of the storms interspersed with impressive lightning displays can be mesmerizing. The storms with their head start stayed in front of us. We would pass by places where the pavement remained wet and puddles abounded but we never quite caught them as we would stop for a break or a meal. A heavy sprinkle is as close as we came but the distant beauty was appreciated. Topping a hill, looking out over a vast, wide valley with another foothill five to ten miles away and this ginormous landscape dwarfed by the thunderstorm's dark silhouette and bright flashes left me speechless. The shear size and power as it moved across the earth was astoundingly beautiful. The scale diminished as mountains gave way to plains and light gave way to darkness but then the storm's lightning took center stage. The bolts alternatingly crawled across the sky, lit up the clouds from within, and then bolted hard to the earth. They held a distant beauty in their size, power, and majesty. I was duly impressed, thrilled, humbled, entertained, and thankful.
Then from time to time I would steal a glance into the back seat to see the grands. At times they played on ipads, listened to music ( I heard the Teddy Bear Picnic 32 times between New Mexico and Dallas), drew, colored, ate, pestered sibling (not much frankly), sang, asked Grandcos questions and napped. I was impressed, humbled, entertained, and thankful. Theirs was an intimate beauty that began not three feet from my head that reached a deeper place in the heart that few could touch.
I realized that the Source of this and all true beauty was the Lord of the storm that of itself displays only a small portion of His power and majesty. This Source of beauty in dancing eyes, heart-grabbing smiles, unexplained giggles, quiet looks from deep thought, and the presence of beings so connected to my soul is also the same Lord. This Lord of distant beauty is the Lord of the intimate beauty who seeks to be enjoyed in both and every beauty in between.
Look long, look closely, look inward and outward. Look in the backseat, in the mirror, in the yard, down the pew, across the valley, through the pain, and look behind the laughter, He is there, Immanent and Transcendent at once. He is Jesus, a distant beauty as close as your heart.