We awoke in the frosty stillness of a Colorado morning. Sunrise came early. We tugged on sweatshirts with uncoordinated hands and didn’t stop to brush our teeth. The car was quiet as we drove to the Garden of the Gods, a park on the edge of town. If anyone regretted our plans, they didn’t say. Car doors slammed in the parking lot, their echoes returning like dog barks. A line of hiking boots scraped and shuffled along a gravel path. Too much walking before breakfast. We reached an overlook at the top of a cliff. The neighborhoods below were still asleep, night’s velvet shadow pulled over them like a blanket. Then we waited, all eight of us. Yawning. It didn’t take long for the light to begin. First, pale blue at the horizon. Then a flush of peach rippling over that. And then, one of my friends opened the book in his hands and started to read:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for
which is like a bridegroom coming forth
from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.
The verses were from the Bible, a section of Psalm 91 written more than 2,000 years ago. Often, the language of the Psalms had struck me as lavish. Hyperbole. But on the cliff, the words were perfect. The imagery was stunning. For me, it connected lofty, yet familiar, ideas to an accessible reality.
We didn’t just read poetry that day. We lived a poem. We had found our place within one.