Permanence

Cooke’s Peak stood in her usual glory 30 miles south-east of my house this morning. Why should she not? She has been part of the horizon of this place for a hundred thousand years, and she has many more millennia before her. She seems as unchanging as the earth itself. I wonder what she thinks of Easter?

We Christians hold that the world shifted on that Easter morning, promising a shift in our living from dying to truly living. We crave stability only when it suits us. Otherwise we crave change. Whether you want permanence or change, you never get everything you want, for some things change, like the weather, and some things seemingly do not, like Cooke’s Peak. To complicate things even more, we Christians hold that the Easter event changed not just the options for humanity, but creation itself. St. Paul in Romans 8 is perhaps the premier example of a Scriptural foundation for this belief, alongside many other passages and two thousand years of Church history. I return to my first question. What does Cooke’s Peak think of Easter?

What does all creation think of Easter? Nothing is unchanging, in the long run. 66 million years ago this area lay on the edge of the Western Interior Seaway that linked the Arctic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico in a huge shallow inland sea. The rock at the top of the peak itself is younger than that sea, only 39 million years old. Her permanence is a matter of perspective, compared to the mere four score and ten that we are allowed.

Easter means change to Cooke’s Peak. It means that the slow process of erosion that leeched minerals into mines that humans dug in her flanks became a gift of wealth to those who carved at her, even as they in turn changed the landscape, the erosion patterns and the relative amount of human waste still seen there. Maybe more profoundly it means that even as she is washed completely to the ground her stony bones do not go to waste, but are rather incorporated into other forms in creation: alluvial washes, plains and valleys, and even incorporated into plants and then animals, to be deposited finally perhaps thousands of miles away.

Easter means that though she may not grace the horizon of the Mimbres Valley forever she will not truly die, but live again in another way. That’s what it means to me as well.

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