Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vista Experience

The dictionary defines vista as a distant view seen through a passage.  I've come to realize my life has been punctuated by what I call vista experiences.  Perhaps it was inevitable having grown up in Colorado where vistas abound.  I recall, for example, sitting on a ridge looking out over South Park--a thousand square mile high-altitude plain northwest of Colorado Springs--how quickly I lost myself in its vastness.  Later, even though I hadn't physically moved an inch, I recovered myself far removed from where I had started. I had had a vista experience.

There is no guarantee natural vistas will engender vista experiences, though.  About eleven years ago my son and I climbed a 14150 ft peak in southwest Colorado.  Standing atop the world certainly took my breath away and I definitely felt the elation of accomplishment, but despite all that and the awesome spectacle of the panorama spread out about me in all directions, I didn't have a vista experience.

There are those who believe drugs will induce a vista experience.  Nonsense.  Timothy Leary's mantra of "turn on, tune in, drop out" has proven fatal to our society in terms of, among other things, escalated crime, broken homes, and yes, even slavery.  Artificial encounters such as one gets from drugs and alcohol always exact a price--always take something away from a person.  But true vista experiences always give the person something--at least when he's open to it--and usually what is imparted will include a liberation.

Now, some of you at this point might be thinking, "He's going to bring the discussion around to religious experiences."  Actually, not.  I have had very few of what might be called religious experiences in my fifty-two year walk with Christ, and none of them were vista experiences.  I should note, however, that God has always been beside me during my vista experiences.  Indeed, it is a look, a gesture, or word from Him that provides meaning to the experience.  You see, all genuine vista experiences have content; they must, because vista experiences effect a displacement--a movement either towards or away from something--such as I earlier described had happened in my South Park encounter.  And motion requires the input of content, be it wisdom, insight, vision, or what have you.  In fact, vista experiences involve a sudden focusing of some set of events, impressions, thoughts, and ideas intrinsic to the person that prior to that moment defied coalescence, like Darth Vader vainly trying to lock in on Luke Skywalker's x-wing.

Perhaps, instead, you are thinking, "Oh, wow, man, the dude's getting existential."  In a sense, I guess I am.  But vista experiences are not leaps into the darkness; they are not hopeless attempts at grasping for meaning that isn't really there.  Vista experiences are real precisely because they reveal real things about you.  During a vista experience something suddenly resonates deep within you.  Often times music, stories, and especially movies can become vista experiences; that's why you tend to gravitate back to them over and over again.  Others might hear or see the same thing yet go away indifferent or merely entertained; but it always seems to resonate powerfully with you. And you might not even know why.  The point is the resonance is real; meaning that has long eluded you has suddenly been brought to light; quite unexpectedly, you see a distant view of truth through a passage cut by a song, a prose, a poem, a motion-picture, a display of nature, or something else you would have never thought capable.  And it behooves you to understand the revelation because it is a key piece to the puzzle of who you truly are.

What I'm relating is the wonder of vista experiences, and the reason all of us will eventually encounter them.  I'm convinced vista experiences are those unexpected moments the Holy Spirit calls us.........................................."Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."


Anonymous said...

Bruce, I wonder why some experience the vistas and others have very few. Could it be that "vistas" are more apt to come to those who are in search of the "high plains" of life and thougtht. Keep writing about the vistas you see and ponder.