On Sunday, September 18, our third in the Season of Creation series, we will be celebrating wilderness. (Forests. Land. Wilderness. Rivers.)
The related Bible verses are many... we'll chose key portions for Sunday's service, but, if you'd like to read all of the related texts, here's what the Season of Creation liturgy recommends:
Matthew 3:13-4:2 OR Mark 1:9-13
Do you have a favorite spot in "wilderness?" I'll admit, I'm not much of an outdoorsy gal. Silver-level Girl Scout badge aside, I'd rather read about wilderness from the comfort of a down-filled hotel bed... or so I thought.
Then, I read John Steinbeck. His capacity for description is boundless. He made me fall in love with the Salinas Valley before I ever set foot near it. After reading this, I made a pilgrimage of sorts to Monterey-Salinas to experience- in person- Steinbeck's Salinas wilderness.
In East of Eden, (modern version of Cain and Abel... man was cast out, East of Eden, after his "fall.") Steinbeck describes the good and the bad in all of us, beginning with the land. He hits this theme, from the opening chapter, using the splendor of Salinas Valley, saying
I remember that the Gabilan Mountains to the east of the valley were light gay mountains full of sun and loveliness and a kind of invitation, so that you wanted to climb into their warm foothills almost as you want to climb into the lap of a beloved mother. They were beckoning mountains with a brown grass love. The Santa Lucias stood up against the sky to the west and kept the valley from the open sea, and they were dark and brooding—unfriendly and dangerous. I always found in myself a dread of west and a love of east. Where I ever got such an idea I cannot say, unless it could be that the morning came over the peaks of the Gabilans and the night drifted back from the ridges of the Santa Lucias. It may be that the birth and death of the day had some part in my feeling about the two ranges of mountains.
Later, he describes the bounty of the flowers, in all their glory... and this is truly, exactly what I saw:
The whole valley floor, and the foothills too, would be carpeted with lupins and poppies. Once a woman told me that colored flowers would seem more bright if you added a few white flowers to give the colors definition. Every petal of blue lupin is edged with white, so that a field of lupins is more blue than you can imagine. And mixed with these were splashes of California poppies. These too are of a burning color—not orange, not gold, but if pure gold were liquid and could raise a cream, that golden cream might be like the color of the poppies.