the great adventure: day 2
sorry for the delay. i was off on yet another adventure.
after a restful nights sleep i awoke refreshed, taking great comfort in the night sky even as the morning dawned. we packed up camp and ate breakfast, then i spent a few moments reading in the psalms and reflecting on the previous day in my journal. i voiced a prayer of thankfulness and we were off again.
we fueled in moab and headed toward arizona by way of a slight but purposeful detour down us hwy 163 through monument valley.
we stopped for a bit at one of multiple roadside markets amid the mesas and monoliths where local natives sold tribal jewelry and souvenirs. i talked with several of the ladies who sat in ramshackle shades hoping to make enough money from tourists like me to feed their children. or their alcoholism.
i picked out some keepsake items for my family and we moved on but part of me stayed behind and ached with them for the loss of their culture and free, wide-open lands. ive no native blood (though my wife has cherokee through her father) but theres something about being among the desert hues under such a big sky that makes me long for the simple ways of ancient days, when facebook was smoke signals and blogs were real people conversing in each others tents or by the fire.
however corny it seems ive always had an affinity for the simplicity and devotion of the native peoples of this land. the rhythmic movements of their lives speaks to me of a time when connecting with the creator was as easy as waking to a new day; each elemental movement a devotion to the giver of life.
its complicated now. technology does that. dont get me wrong, technology is great, but its a blessing mixed with a curse and im afraid the curse holds sway in my life most the time. as ive said before here and here, technology affects how we think about and connect with god, and as we drove into arizona something inside me yearned for a simple relationship with my creator, unfettered by the trappings of my technologically advanced society.
somehow a part of me was jealous of the natives i felt sorry for.
we headed west through navajo territory, the largest single chunk of native reservation land in the united states. in this area that once sparked fear among pioneers and prospectors all i sensed was a desolate, sparsely populated sadness, and i wondered how any group of people could thrive there.
i mean, its the desert.
yet there was life. here and there we saw trailers at a distance from the highway and there were even a few towns. kayenta had a subway so we stopped for lunch and bird has a great story from there he may share sometime on his blog with a pic or 2.
anyway, we continued west and after turning onto the park road, crossed from desolate desert into a wooded forest as we climbed in elevation. the kaibab national forest is a peculiar high desert wonder filled with pine, fir, spruce, aspen, and juniper, to name a few, and our view from camp was certainly not what i expected after a long day in such a barren and rugged landscape.
and then there was the canyon itself..
on entering grand canyon national park we stopped off at the watchtower and then headed over to set up our tents at mather campground on the south rim before going back to yavapai point to take pictures and watch the sunset behind the haze-veiled canyon, which was just glorious.
after supper we washed our utensils at the public sink by the restroom and as we were walking back to our site 2 guys in a car with louisiana plates pulled by and said they were able to get showers up the road a bit for $2 and that was better than no shower at all. but the idea of paying to get clean didnt sit well with us so we stayed dirty.
and it occurred to me that this may be many peoples reaction to a church culture that talks about mercy and grace but holds them ransom in exchange for any number of conditions. as nice as it would be to get clean, the cost outweighs the benefit so most just stay dirty.
but however dirty we were it didnt keep god from unleashing his beautiful artistry. we headed back out to watch the night sky swirl above us, as the milky way arched across the heavens expelling light.
it was mesmerizing.
a strong, gusty wind howled over us as we sat and watched the dance, a pervasive reminder of the different forces at work in gods creative process; some distant and aloof while others are present and active.
my mind was drawn quickly to the passage where jesus explains the kingdom to nicodemus from john 3:6-8
when you look at a baby, its just that: a body you can look at and touch. but the person who takes shape within is formed by something you cant see and touch – the spirit – and becomes a living spirit. so dont be so surprised when i tell you that you have to be born from above – out of this world, so to speak. you know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. you hear it rustling through the trees but you have no idea where it comes from or where its headed next. thats the way it is with everyone born from above by the wind of god, the spirit of god.
in thinking about this specific passage it seems jesus is saying that the people of his kingdom will be like the wind. the wind that smooths the hardest rocks and sculpts the landscape. the wind that cools and refreshes weary travelers. the wind that has a profound effect even though it is invisible.
and just as ancient stargazers connected lights in the sky forming images of their god stories, i drew a connection between my longing for the simple ways, wide-open spaces, gods mercy and grace, and the effects of the howling wind.
he hadnt spoken to me yet
but his voice was everywhere around me
whispering from his creation