The Blood of Christ



by Cantinker Moss



For years I have wanted to go to the Rocky Mountains. It’s not that I have never seen mountains…I have seen great mountains on the coast of southeast Alaska. I also spent time in Boulder, Colorado, which was the first time I ever saw such majestic mountains. I was on my way to sea duty in the U.S. Coast Guard and was scheduled to fly to Juneau, and then Sitka, Alaska where my ship was docked.

When I viewed these mountains, it was at night; and from Boulder, the faint moonglow gave them a very surreal look…almost like, “I know you’re there, but then, I’m not sure.” Later, I learned these particular rock formations were known as the Flatirons, and they did not occupy a lot of the natural real estate outside of Boulder. They were the beginning of the Front Range; the foothills so to speak, and I felt pretty blessed to be there.

But I am here to talk about another range of mountains. I have not seen it in person. Yet I have had no lack of blessing, thanks to the miracle of the PC and the internet. A website that I have enjoyed over the years has been http://www.sangres.com. It has a second title, “For Your Daily Dose of the Wonders of the West.” This website shows the beauty of the Rockies, state by state, and it was here that I discovered the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This comes from the words Sangre (“blood”) and Cristo (“Christ”.) When you put the Spanish preposition between the two words, you have Sangre de Cristo, not to mention that this is a proper name and a geographical name, which puts it in its rightful form and place on maps of New Mexico. (In the western U.S. there are dozens of place names that trace their name origins to Spanish; e.g. Colorado and Los Angeles.) And no wonder; the Spanish were the first European settlers here.

But why does this mountain range have the privilege of an association with Jesus Christ? I’m sure that those first off the boat with the flag of Spain decided that this land was theirs for the taking (no matter if anyone was there before them) So “if the land was theirs,” Then it would follow that they could create the maps and the local place names in their language too. But what of the place name of this mountain range? Those who first came to this area from Europe noted that the hue of the mountains themselves would change depending on the time of day…particularly morning and evening…sunrise and sunset. It was as if the mountains themselves were turning red in color. And what those religious Spaniards saw was red…the color of blood…the blood of Christ.



The Blood of Christ



I don’t want the things

My heart thinks I desire.

But I want to see the fire

Reflected on the higher

Country,

Like the rising crescendo of a choir

Glowing from the fountains

That are the mountains:

The

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

To the north;

That far-flung range

From God’s lone domain.

Oh, what God gave us!


Oh, what God gave us

When God gave us the Heavens and the Earth!



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An American’s View From Below: Mountains

by Cantinker Moss

Photo by Victoria Dihua Xue on Unsplash

 

I don’t know much about Mr. Tolkien and Middle Earth, but I think I remember a hobbit named Bilbo saying, “I want to see mountains!”

Now, I think I recall a Mt. Doom (appropriately named) and the Misty Mountains being there.  And didn’t that he-devil, Saruman, live in those highlands?  Where was it that the Fellowship went or where the old hobbit met his end for eternity?

But I am an American, all you short and tall gentleman—gentle creatures of Middle Earth.  And I live in Middle America—the Midwest—fly-over country where the wheat, corn, and soybeans grow…where great rivers run to the sea.  But where do many of those rivers begin?  They begin in the mountains.

I too, want to see mountains.  Let me show you mine.

First, there are the old men:  the Ozarks; grizzled in their age from the Mississippi River to Oklahoma.  They are full of springs and creeks with sand pines along their banks.  Then throughout the plateau, an assortment of hardwoods are arranged on a palette to display an autumn effulgence on a bright October day after a frost.  Ah, Legolas, you would never find a finer tree to make a bow.

Then there are the Appalachians, and all their children from Maine to Georgia:  the White and Green Mountains…the Berkshires…the Alleghenies…the Adirondacks and Catskills…the Blue Ridge and Smokies—The Great Smokies… with a rising haze as if someone lit the forest on fire without a flame—only the smoke.  In these eastern lands, north and south, are the passes and hollers that met Boone and the pioneers on their way west.  This is the land of Sevier and the Over-Mountain Men who defended those Carolina farms from the arrogance of a king and his army at Cowpens and yes, in all its irony, Kings Mountain.

But then there is the West with its Cascades, Sierra Nevadas, and Rockies.  It is a place, beyond the plains and prairies, full of glory but also sadness…a place of humiliation and a displaced people.  It is reminder of a flawed earthly history.  Some once called it a frontier.  But in fairness to all people, perhaps it can be a reminder of a newer hope in the hearts and minds of all people.  And might this hope be fixed on a point that is newer than all?  It is a kingdom, greater than all kingdoms, which has a King, greater than all kings.

All these earthly mountains, east and west…north and south, are still wonderful because the great King created them.  The ones in the West are still mighty and have the names that the great King allowed women and men to put on their maps.  Their names are Wind River… Sangre de Cristo…the San Juan Mountains in the Ucompahghre…the Grand Tetons…the Flat Irons…the Anaconda Range southwest of the Mussellshell…the Black Hills…the Wasatch… and the Land of the Canyons in Utah.  Oh yes, and then there is the canyon…the Grand Canyon.

Over in California are the Sierras with their gold and big trees.  East of that in Nevada, is Virginia City, Gold Hill, and the Comstock.  And out of those hills, Gimli, you could mine silver…the finest in the world, and which sustained a nation for a time.

Follow the Cascades north, and you will find Rainier, that great volcano, which some say is warm at the top.  Further north, is Denali in Alaska.  It is the earthly mountain that looks over all the mountains on the continent.  And then, in the middle of the western ocean, are the Islands.  They hold mountains shining with the fiery possibility of their own danger.

Mountains…East and West…North and South…all upon this great continent.  Climbed…cursed…on calendars…on postcards…photographed…painted…and in some cases, worshipped.  But what of a mountain rich in history…with nations at war for its divine wealth…a mountain that indeed moved kings, caliphs and presidents…yet, nobody’s property but those to whom it was given…someday sought by all…someday adored by all:  a holy hill named Zion.

No wonder Bilbo wanted to see mountains.