the great adventure: day 10
with a promising day ahead we woke early and after a good breakfast with the maytons said our goodbyes and headed out. we were only minutes from the golden gate bridge and came upon it before i was really prepared. i scrambled to get my camera out and take a few shots as we passed under the wonder of suspension and human ingenuity and like so many events in life it was over before i really wrapped my mind around it, much less my viewfinder. despite the clouds and hanging fog the red coating still pulsed in my eyes as we crossed and as i looked back san francisco glowed in the early morning sun.
a short winding drive up into the tamalpais hills brought us to muir woods national monument and our early arrival allowed us a rare privilege: walking among these giants without the bustle of noisy tourists.
the indeterminate growth of these coastal redwoods pushes them ever skyward and because of their proximity to the ocean they get a vast amount of moisture, creating a huge natural ecosystem with a diversity of living things thriving beneath their umbrella.
as with many of our experiences on this trip words fail to adequately describe what it was like to set foot in these woods and the unreasonable quiet offset by the ancient grove of giant trees reaching ever higher drew me into gods presence yet again. walking underneath the canopy felt like being in another world and i considered the fact that this place was already here quietly minding its own business around the time jesus walked the earth.
in the hour we spent slowly drifting along the trails i found the harmony of big and small mesmerizing. from the intricate roots system..
to the undergrowth..
to the giant trunks..
to the treetops..
everything there, though vastly different in size, lives in unity. there is an interdependence that allows life to thrive because these differences are complimentary in this setting. in many ways this is how i understand being a part of the kingdom of god; we are all vastly different but we share an ecosystem of faith in jesus. so while we may disagree on certain theological ideas or how to worship or how to bring the gospel to this generation we live and move and have our being under the same canopy of gods mercy and grace.
for me this concept is vital in keeping me humble and tethered to a faith that was around several millennia before i was – much like these woods. and i believe we need such tethers; ways to keep us grounded as we gaze up into the lofty branches of our hopes and dreams and remain connected with the past as we move into the future.
as we drove up i-505 to the 5 and headed north through the valley the clouds grew dark and ominous. we crossed the stunningly deep blue mccloud river reservoir twice and then chased alongside the river itself up through logging country, past the aptly named castle crags and on to mount shasta where we pulled off to gas up. after a few hours in the car it was nice to stretch and while we unfolded we talked with some young guys who looked like rastafarian hippies.
our conversation was short but we discovered they moved there from ohio…just because. the dense fog inside their little subaru outback gave me the impression that they may have moved here for other reasons and after a few minutes we wished them well and got back on the road, passing the small town of weed just a few miles north and confirming my suspicions. i couldnt help but be amused by this for a good while.
we veered northeast on us highway 97 and passed some old lava flows from shastas eruptions, the most recent taking place only 200 years ago. the overcast sky hid the valley in shadows and the clouds obscured the peak but it was still an impressive sight.
further north we passed into oregon and watched as the hills rolled off gently in every direction. we tracked alongside upper klamath lake for a bit, which is a beautiful but lonely stretch of road. as we pressed further north, the hills gradually grew populated with more and more trees and with so much natural growth i was surprised to discover a sign calling this area the “high desert”.
just north of the lake we turned northwest again on oregon state highway 62 and as we crossed into crater lake national park we noticed several small patches of snow on the ground. it was the end of june and we were barley above 5000 feet in elevation which made this quite an unusual sight but before we had much of a chance to marvel at it snow began falling quickly all around us. we pulled into the gift shop by the rv camping area and took a few moments to take in what was happening.
a freak summer blizzard hit crater lake the day we showed up and covered the whole area in a foot of snow? it was hard to believe. yet as we crested the rim and walked up to the ledge it was true: the sudden storm had fogged in the lake and while it was beautiful and surreal it shrouded from view our very reason for being there.
i was torn between my desire to see crater lake with its majestic hues and my love of experiencing snow. as it continued to fall we walked along the ledge and read some of the plaques depicting mount mazama and its volcanic activity.
as it turns out the klamath tribe of the area claimed that crater lake was created by a battle between llao, the god of the underworld, and skell, the god of the sky, who fought to the death between mount shasta and mount mazama until skell defeated llao and cast him deep into the underworld. he then used the top of mount mazama to imprison llao and after sealing it, covered it with water to restore peace and tranquility.
the story reminded me of a latin phrase i learned while studying the protestant reformation: post tenebras lux. translated it means after darkness, light. this idea shows up a lot in mythology around the world and is a foundational element in the creation story of genesis. the jewish people still mark days in this manner, and in a sense it is a concept that offers great hope because however dark the night, the dawn will prevail.
i knew nothing of mount mazama and the klamath myth before our trip, i just had a burning desire to find god in the wilder places of his beautiful creation. but in truth i was also running away from my own darkness of anger, depression, and a growing fear that my life would never get any better. walking along the edge of an ancient volcano that symbolized the struggle between darkness and light as it was steadily covered with a flaky snowfall i desperately longed for skell to defeat llao and the promise of post tenebras lux.
for the end of my bitter darkness
and the warmth of light.
the klamath tribe long ago understood this volcano in terms of this longing for peace in the face of chaos; a longing to be alive and in the light, enjoying the tranquility of creation. it is a longing shared by paul in romans 8:1-2
with the arrival of jesus the messiah, the fateful dilemma is resolved. those who enter into christs being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous low-lying black cloud. a new power is in operation. the spirit of life in christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
and further in 8:19-23
the created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. everything in creation is being more or less held back. god reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. meanwhile the joyful anticipation deepens. all around us we observe a pregnant creation. the difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. but its not only around us – its within us. the spirit of god is arousing us within. we are also feeling the birth pangs. these sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.
so as we huddled back into brians little honda fit and tried to escape the mounting snow the weight of the battle being waged inside me, the conflict between chaos and light in my past, present and foreseeable future, landed on me like the snow – enshrouding my thoughts and obscuring the way forward. and while i eagerly anticipated the possibility of glorious times ahead i remained entangled in the existing conflict within; fearing what it would mean to face my own darkness.
god had showed up throughout this trip and had assured me he was with me “…even at the end of the earth…” but now i wondered what that meant when i walked away from the end of the earth and back into the everyday reality i left behind in dallas. would light follow this darkness? or would i just have to trust that the beauty was there on the other side of it and hope to see it someday?
the snowy fog hiding the beauty of the lake was a perfect metaphor.
with this mystery circling the sacred labyrinth in my mind we stopped to take a picture at the wizard island overlook as the blizzard continued
wary of sleeping in the snow we discussed pushing on to portland and finally decided to take turns at the wheel and drive through the night to snohomish outside seattle where we would stay with the jeffs family, parents of some of my close friends, clint and melissa brackett. we called ahead to warn them of our change of plans and desire to arrive ahead of schedule albeit late in the night. wendy was more than hospitable and even agreed to keep watch and let us in whenever we arrived.
we passed mount hood and mount st helens in the dark and i don’t remember much of the trip other than a short few hours behind the wheel as i took a shift driving from just north of portland up through tacoma. we stopped for gas in my namesake of kent and finally arrived in snohomish around 4 am to find wendy waiting up for us. she set us up with beds and we decided to just sleep in and head into seattle whenever we all awoke and got ready.
i snuggled into my pillow on the couch and said a quick prayer of thankfulness as well as need but after a long day and almost 900 miles on the road the weight of the day dragged me into a deep and welcomed sleep
somewhere close to dawn.