Lisa Joy Samson

“You fill up my senses like a night in the forest, like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain.” John Denver

Friendly flowers, shrubby Black Eyed Susans, grow in a scraggly heap upon the berm. The valley, lush from a rainy summer so unusual here in the high desert, laps in a foam of green up to the Colorado shore upon which we sit, God and me. And God and you. And you and I. Together before a scene at once gentle, at once splendorous, at once LIFE, we breathe.

The breeze blows over the shell of our ears, singing gently, like an old woman gardening, planting bulbs in the early Autumn, already anticipating what Spring will bring but still listening to the music of fireside color around her. It all pulses, throbs, intones the song that should no one alight upon this view, it will be beautiful regardless. Mirroring the question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I already know our question, “If no one is around to witness such beauty, is it beautiful?” To both questions, I raise a joyful, “Yes!” joining in the song of stars, planets, and all that bear witness to Creation but does not call itself Mankind.

Self-important creatures that many of us are, believing our witness is what verifies Creation itself, we miss the unalterable, highly evident fact that we are Creation. Not that God doesn’t enjoy the appreciation for a job well done. Our Creator isn’t like the writer who keeps her beautiful prose locked up in a journal to be destroyed at her passing. No. God is a bit of a show-off when it comes to Creation. And why not? Have any of us yet beaten that?

“Creating other humans is pretty amazing,” says God, looking out over the landscape. “I’m pretty impressed with the job you all do. I love what you’ve done with roses and some dog breeds, landscape, and don’t forget topiary.”

I suppose there is all that.

“And who doesn’t think the Taj Mahal isn’t breathtaking?”

So God doesn’t need all the glory, I suppose.

“You suppose right. In a backwards sort of way. The Creator of the created-creators still gets some of the credit, don’t you think?”

Well, yes.

“So why would I mind you taking your fair share?”

I can’t think of a good reason.

“What kind of being wants all the glory when there is an infinite amount to share?”

A puny one?

“People defend Me in ways I don’t need defending. They get jealous for me when I am more like Father Christmas than Scrooge. Do I seem like Scrooge to you?”

God with us now defies description as usual but feels, today, like the flowers and the breeze with a little wolffish wildness thrown in for good measure.

“A well-fed wolf,” God assures me. “Shall we?” A Divine finger points down into the valley.


I learned the hard way that when God invites you to walk to the beautiful places and you pass it up on the off-chance there’s something better, chances are, there isn’t. And God is that friend who always knows where the good stuff is. Right now. So yes, we shall. Every time.

Stepping from the berm onto the rough grasses at the valley’s lip, we begin now. Here. At the very pace at which we begin. Fast? Slow? Compared to what?
With God the wind feels like an embrace, the sights before us become the best homemade gifts, and everything smells as if it was cleaned by the most tender nursemaid, bathed in light, care, and hope that maybe, just now, life won’t be as hard as it seems the rest of the time.

“It’s like a bit of a holiday,” says God, and I agree.

Red rocks, white rocks poke up through the rolling valley floor and the path beneath our feet, terra cotta brown and finely graveled, serpentines through the brush, the long grasses, and the sparsely decorated evergreens. Some of the trees are babes, others have reached up to the sun for quite some time now.
I look behind us for a moment, unafraid. There’s no worry of being turned into a pillar of salt today, for God is by my side, and God made all of this. I am with the One Whose very Word brought this forth. My breath rushes in as my diaphragm makes way for it, pulling down, expanding my chest cavity for the cooling atmosphere of this jewel in space we inhabit. Oh, the beauty. Oh, the Beauty.

Behind us, bare trees, once full of needles and cones and wildlife, obviously endured a fire. Around their bases, plant life has returned, but the trees themselves point slender, naked, blackened fingers toward the sky or lay down upon the hills like the pick up sticks my grandmother kept by her plastic, Westinghouse radio when I was a little girl.

What I like most about walking with God is that sometimes God speaks, but not always, for conversation isn’t about words necessarily, although we have a hard time imagining it otherwise, you and I. When important men through the years have told me not to listen to my heart, I have often thought, you might just as well stop it beating, then, for all your good intentions. For it is there, in the core of me, I hear God; it is there I walk with God, it is there I am most true, trusting at times, pleading at others, yes. But it is there that I’m not worried about how much I know, but taking comfort in how much I am known.

And oh, how much we are known, are we not? How can we help but be known when inside us resides our Creator, our loving Creator who neither runs nor hides. The veils we perceive are self-manufactured, yes? Perhaps it is a sense of unworthiness or the harsh words and ideas of others that have hung these black-out draperies around our souls. And if there is a door to the Divine Image, do we think God is on the inside or the outside? The door is imaginary, I’ve come to realize. How do I know this? I live and somehow, despite my own ignorance, apathy, impatience, greed, self-consumption, and downright callousness at times, love is born from me and comes to me, particularly at those times when I stop trying so hard.

“You’re learning,” says God.

I look behind me at the remains of the fire, how the parrot green of newborn vegetation foams forth, how life, low to the ground and lush, becomes a promise and a fulfillment at one and the same time. It gives me comfort to know that death and decay are only a fertilizer of sorts, that much of what I now see was returned to carbon, reduced to it’s base element during the fire’s blessed heat, and that element with six electrons, six protons and eight neutrons still spun and kicked and sang with life. It still does as I watch those charred trees. Perhaps they echo the words of St. Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

It’s all well, I say to God. For what is now well, once shall have been well.

Time liquifies out here.

“Thank you,” says God.

I swivel my gaze back around and look before me at the small hills, turning into a flowing, jaunty ridge, and behind that, massive mountains shouldering their presence to the top of the view that is earth. The sky, as you know, is always another matter.

“I love each one of those flowers back there,” God says, indicating the yellow blooms that cheered us on at the outset. “We tend to think that scale means something, but, children, I tell you it does not. There is nothing too small to be cared for and nothing too large to leave on its own.”

I think I understand. Sometimes we deem ourselves of such little account we’re not really worthy of God’s time. Who am I? we wonder. I’m not going to save the world when I can’t even balance my checkbook. I mean that. I haven’t balanced my checkbook in years. How will God ever work through me when I don’t even know what I’m here for? Best to stay convenient and be low maintenance. That way God doesn’t even need to think twice about me.

“How about three times?” God asks.

And then some people don’t see themselves as flowers at all. I’m not going to ask a thing from God. I’m a weed, my family was weeds, and we’ll never be more than weeds.

“What’s wrong with weeds?” God says. “Look around you.”

Nothing wrong with weeds out here. It’s not like anybody’s going to plant a vegetable garden.

“So you’re saying this is a good place for weeds?” God asks.

Yes. And I can’t think of a better place, either. Look how gorgeous this is. So. Maybe the problem sometimes is we’re trying to grow in places we were never meant to?

God places a finger to the Divine nose and points at us.

We don’t have to be a plant for all seasons and all places?

“Does creation reflect that?”

Not even a little.

Speaking of scale, what about those mountains? How do you feel about them?

“Probably the same way you do.”

That’s so nice.

“I love it all.”

Me too.

“I like that about you,” God says. God gathers us to the sides of Being, squeezes us in and says, “Children, I want you to look at all of this and remember just how big I Am. You see that mountain and feel so small. You see that beetle and feel so large. On the true scale of the finite, each part is very little, and there’s so much empty space in between. Do you see how close in size you actually are to that mountain when compared to the Universe?”

I do.

“The biggest difference between you and the mountain is that the mountain doesn’t have a hard time being a mountain. Do you see that?”
I do, God. I’ve never felt comfortable anywhere except with the safest of people doing absolutely nothing but being together and eating good food. Don’t forget the food.

God smiles. “Comfortable now?”

Of course. I’m here with You.

“And I’m with you always.”

Oh! Oh! That’s a gamechanger right there. What if life is just being, not doing more and more and more to belong? What if we already belong? What if we’ve always belonged?

“Oh, you have,” says God. “You’ve just forgotten. But don’t be hard on yourself. So have most people.”

I don’t understand.

“How much time do you have?” asks God.

All the time in the world?

“Good answer.”

We move forward into the creation, walking amongst every little thing, all the big things, too, and enjoying existing for the very sake of it. I am, you are, we are all in this together, now, here, always, and in all ways.

(c)2023 Lisa Joy Samson