Thursday, April 08, 2004


I love “Semana Santa” (Holy Week) in Toluca. Being one of only two weeks in the year that everyone has vacation, the city empties out. The streets are quiet and the sky clears up. (I don’t know how much of the grime in the air is blown over the mountains from the 5 million cars in Mexico City and how much is the pollution from local factories and cars, but during Easter vacation there is a noticeable change in the air quality.)

Yesterday we left the house a bit more than normal and we surprised at the appearance of our volcano, El Nevado de Toluca. Even though we’ve lived here for eight years, it was like we had never seen it this way before. It looked so close. We could see so clearly the newly tilled fields, the pine trees (I almost thought I could see individual trees at the tree line), and the gray slag of the peaks accented by creases of snow.

All day we noticed views of the volcano we hadn’t known were there – a full view down a familiar street, the peak rising clearly above the houses behind an empty block. Tim said, “It really dominates the city.”

How can we be so surprised by something that has been in the same place for the eight years we’ve lived here? Ordinarily there is a filter of dust, haze and smog that obscures it so we can only see it dimly, if at all. (Several years ago during a record drought we couldn’t see it at all for six months.)

Which leads me to think about how we humans are so bound by our individual perceptions—and our pride—that we think that what we see is all that’s there, that what we perceive is an accurate perception of reality, when in fact our perception is very limited and quite obscured by the dust of our limitations and the pollution of our sin. I think if that dust and pollution were blown away, reality would surprise us and we would see with clarity the way God dominates the landscape of our lives.

El Nevado gives me a way to remember this truth. When I can’t see it, or it seems far away, it’s not that it has moved but something has come between us. I can’t get rid of, or see through the smog, but I can remember the glimpse I have had of reality at its most accurate and know that the mountain with its fields and trees and peaks is just as close as ever.

This reminds me too that my perception of life is just as flawed as my view of the mountain, which calls for a bit of humility. And it helps me remember that God and His love are the dominating feature of the landscape of my life, even if I can’t see it at the moment.

(Just have to note that the title of this blog is in my mind because of a song on John Mayer's latest CD "Heavier Things" which has some great songs)

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