When I moved to Colorado Springs, I lived partially up the side of the mountain called Cheyenne Mountain. I could see Pikes Peak from there. It isn’t the prettiest mountain in the Rockies, but it stands at 14,110 feet and is a backdrop for Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods. Its impressive snow-capped peak stood tall for me while I was experiencing the spreading of my wings having left home for the first time.
It is no wonder that Katherine Lee Bates was so inspired in this beauty spot to compose the words to America the Beautiful. She had been on an extended holiday in 1893 when she visited Pikes Peak. She just wrote a poem, but later on Samuel Augustus Ward put the words to music.
America the Beautiful has found its way into many of our milestones in America. Most recently was after the 2001 attacks on the United States. America the Beautiful was played and sung in many settings.
These are the first words in the song, America the Beautiful:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
About 70 miles from Colorado Springs looms the city of Denver. It also has the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. If you travel up the mountains there, you will arrive at the Continental Divide. It is said that this is the place that separates the East Coast from the West Coast. Standing on these mountains and looking as far as the eye can see, I had the sense that there is much more to life than we can ever fully soak into our brains.
I get a similar feeling when I attend church. God is so much bigger than we can possibly contain in our little brains. He is as far as the eye can see. As I sit in my church, I see the cross hanging there. It is a reminder that we have been bought with a price. You see Jesus was clothed in purple as a sign of royalty, but the soldiers did it in a sign of mockery. In the Bible are these words “They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.” (Mark 15:17-20, NIV)
Oh, “purple mountain majesties”. Our God has given us so much from beautiful mountains to enjoy to Jesus who sacrificed himself for us. How dare we run around with our heads hanging low when we could just look around us, and up, and know that “God shed his grace on thee.”
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