A 'Rocky Mountain high'

A Christian Science perspective: God loves us too much to make our happiness dependent on a high from smoking marijuana or dependent on any material circumstance or substance. God leads us to greater altitudes, to the genuine affection of the heart.

Ahhh, beautiful Colorado! The other day I was driving home from a nearby state, and as I left the flat and barren wintry countryside of Wyoming and caught a glimpse of the snowcapped and majestic peaks of the Colorado Rockies, my thought was naturally uplifted.

I thought of John Denver’s ’70s folk hit, “Rocky Mountain High.” His lyrics speak of breathtaking scenery, much like the gorgeous view I was taking in. He describes meteor showers that rain “fire in the sky,” along with cathedral mountains, silver clouds, serene lakes, and the quiet solitude of the forest. From his house in Aspen decades ago when he wrote those lyrics, the beauty made him feel so high, he thought he could touch the sun.

A different kind of “high” has been in the spotlight in Colorado lately. A new law went into effect at the beginning of the year that legalizes the sale and use of recreational marijuana. The Christian Science Monitor reported long lines of Coloradoans waiting for hours to buy the locally grown cannabis. The story pointed out that the main glitch in those first days was that there was only a handful of marijuana dispensaries to handle the enormous demand for the drug (see “Legal Marijuana in Colorado: Was Rollout a Success,” Jan. 7).

No matter how a person sees this new law and its legal and moral implications for society, the huge demand for a substance that produces an artificial euphoria points to humanity’s yearning to be lifted higher. Throughout the ages there has been a desire to be drawn up and above the sorrows of everyday existence, including everything from sheer boredom and crippling financial worries to the pain of chronic illness and the fear of death. Humanity longs for a taste of heaven here on earth. With the Psalmist centuries ago, our hearts cry out to God, “[W]hen my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalms 61:2).

Jesus knew about this spiritually higher view. In fact, no one spoke with more authority on heaven than Jesus did. In the Gospel of Matthew, he presented the Beatitudes, found in his Sermon on the Mount. These serve as a helpful guide in praying for any community. To me they are promises. When we are hanging by a thread and mired in the problems of the day, God meets us there and lifts us to higher ground. When we are so grief-stricken that we can’t see a ray of hope anywhere, divine Love lifts up our chin and causes us to see beyond the gloom. When we are hungry for lasting satisfaction, God, Spirit, answers our prayer by raising our thoughts above the empty clamor of everyday events and filling us with an abundance of intelligent solutions.

God loves His children – you and me – too much to make our happiness dependent on any material circumstance or substance. We don’t have to stand in line for joy, and it can’t be bought with any amount of money, because it’s free to us as a gift from our divine Parent. God is continuously leading each one of us to greater altitudes, to the genuine affection of the heart. He causes us to look up to Him as the source of authentic euphoria that’s outside all materiality. In her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy said, “Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of immortal man” (pp. 60-61).

Ultimately, a true “high” can be found only in something sustainable, permanent, and eternal. My prayer for the community is that each individual can achieve the spiritual altitude that lifts him or her up and over all distraction and the pull to escape into empty mindlessness, and get a glimpse of the spiritual and lasting heaven and earth that defies all materiality. That’s a true “Rocky Mountain high.”

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.