From a distance it looked like a big pile of brown dirt. In fact, everywhere I looked, the mountains in the desert were brown. It wasn’t just the mountains though, it was the parched ground and even some of the houses. It would have been very easy for me to take one look at my surroundings, pass judgment, and not look any deeper.
Instead, I heard my elementary teacher in my ear saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Boy was that true! Some of the most fascinating things I had ever read were between nondescript covers. Some of the stories that excited my imagination like never before were in books that looked like they belonged on my Grandpa’s dusty library shelves.
On the flip side, I have also been sorely disappointed by things that appeared great and weren’t. Usually, they were accompanied by some type of fanfare announcing their greatness. Sadly, these disappointments were usually motivated by profit or power. For them, it was the inside that was ugly. When its insides were bared, it was like a betrayal or a slap in the face when compared to the image the outside had presented.
So, I decided to look deeper at that big pile of brown dirt. This would require me to engage my senses and interact with it. It would require time and investment. It meant that I had to get closer, much closer.
Getting close was easy. I simply hopped in my car and drove there. I had a GPS which guided me there. It announced every turn for me and even told me when I arrived. I just had to make the decision to go, and then go.
It was daunting at first, being so close. It truly was a large pile of brown dirt. But now something had changed. I started to see different colors.
There were green cacti with red flower buds. Other types of cacti were smaller and had gold colored spines. Suddenly, the deep, colorful richness of the all the plants around me became clear. It was as if their colors bloomed right in front of me.
Then I looked at my feet and discovered that even the rocks on the ground were alive in color. It was if a master artist had fashioned each one with a special hue. The rocks complemented the plants perfectly. I was awestruck by the beauty of the mountain.
It was a mountain, after all, and not a big pile of dirt.
The next day I saw a man who looked dirty. I decided to look closer.
- Stephen Brownlow