We just took a little vacation up to the great state of Wyoming. And as we made our way up through Utah and then Jackson and even Yellowstone...I decided that I didn't really like Wyoming. It was so...desert-y, and sage-y, and dusty, and dry. I am not really a desert person, and I was so surprised to find out that Wyoming is pretty much a desert state. Who knew?? (Well, probably everyone but me!)
But then we came to Cody, and something in me changed. Cody felt different. After we had been there for a few days I realized that I had completely fallen in love with that little town. With the community and the landscape and the mom-and-pop-ness of it. With the wildness and the western-ness and culture of it.
It made me feel small and safe and free all at the same time.
The sky was so very big, and even the clouds looked to be as big as a whole cities. There was a great vastness to the open space...it made me feel very small. Like a mere speck on this grand creation we call Earth.
The mountains were big and rolling and many, and they surrounded the town on all sides like a fortress. The legend of William F Cody was alive and well, and it seemed to pour out of everywhere. And it made me feel safe... to be inside a fortress guarded by the world-renowned marksman known as Buffalo Bill.
The sunshine was brilliant. The fresh air seemed to be without limit and the wildness lay just beyond view. And I felt as free as I have ever felt.
It all made me feel closer to God, and I am not sure why.
But on our last day there, we visited the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. A movie about Bill Cody was played somewhere along the way and I was surprised to hear him say the same thing...closer to God.
He said it like this...
The moment [my] show closes, I hike out to the mountains. I like to get close to nature. That’s the only real way to live, after all. The [city dweller] doesn’t know what a true man is like. He hasn’t any chance to know. He never takes a full, deep breath; he never gets his lungs full of air. He can’t do it in [his] low altitude. When I get back in the mountains, in those grand temples that God built, I feel like another being, and I say, as I draw in a full breath of life, “I’m certainly a man!”
I believe that a man gets closer to God out there in the big, free West. It gives him a chance to expand, to know himself, to think.
* Charles Darnton, “’Buffalo Bill’ Cody at Close Range,” unidentified newspaper, April 27, 1907