He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door
John Denver, “Rocky Mountain High”
I have to confess: I am a cliche.
I’m a cliche because the lyrics of this John Denver classic are very nearly true for me...except it was my 30th year.
We were living in Wichita, KS, where I was working at a large church. As our time there was drawing to a close, I came to Colorado on something of a personal retreat/backpacking/fishing trip. I’d been to Colorado several times before, but this trip was different… Something stirred deep inside me, and John Denver’s simple, elegant lyrics rang true. I knew I had found a home, a way to leave yesterday behind, a place to awaken to my faith in new ways – maybe not exactly a “key for every door,” but this place has helped me process a great deal.
As with many, my Colorado identity is very much tied to my experiences outdoors. From standing wordless (and breathless) before a mind-bending vista, to holding a living, glistening jewel in the form of a cutthroat trout, to sharing miles of buttery smooth singletrack trail with a dear friend on a trail run, I live in, and love, Colorado for the quick and easy accessibility to amazing outdoor spaces.
Furthermore, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that my faith in God is intimately tied to (but not dependent on) many experiences in Colorado’s great outdoors. I’ve retreated to the mountains with faith communities for times of worship and renewal that have deeply formed me. And many of my most profound times of personal intimacy with God have occurred up in those mountains.
I love Colorado so much...her people, her places...I just love it here.
And now, John Denver’s lyrics are coming true once again through my work with A Million Stories. As I work with individuals and teams to improve relationships and communication by more fully understanding their strengths, motives, and how they navigate conflict, I am absolutely “coming home” in this new work. It’s beautiful and profound work to assist others in understanding how they’re wired, in seeing who God made them to be.
Recently, in a team session with a local nonprofit, I choked up watching co-workers move from simply being aware of their differences to appreciating, embracing and celebrating those differences as a strength of their team. Being present for such moments of growth and insight is a beautiful gift, and it is work I was born to do. With A Million Stories, I feel just like a fish in water, like one of those little cutthroats in a mountain stream.
So, when Denver Institute for Faith & Work decided to convene a conversation around faith, work and Colorado’s outdoor spaces, it was a no-brainer for me to get involved. I’m thrilled to be a sponsor of this gathering and can’t wait to be with you all on July 26th! Who knows – you might find a “key for every door”?!
Editor's note: Gary joins us as a panelist for "God & the Great Outdoors" on July 26, 2018. Join us for a conversation exploring the impact of faith on outdoor retail and recreation, and purchase your tickets today!