Finding God in Yosemite Rain

Finding God in Yosemite Rain June 4, 2019

Sometimes you have to travel in order to find healing new perspectives. In our work-a-day routines, God can sometimes slip our minds. In the tumultuous seas of politics, it can sometimes feel like God has abandoned us. We often get caught up in what feels like a race against time. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that, in that race, time always wins. I am writing this from my hotel room in Seattle. My family has been on a two week journey into the Pacific Northwest. We began last week in San Francisco and have slowly meandered our way North. Along our way, we’ve often unplugged from the trappings of modern civilization and just experienced God’s creation. It’s comforting to know that there are still vast areas of this country where cell phones are useless. It’s times like these when we are forced to focus on what is real, what is important, and what time really means. After visiting some of the most awe-inspiring places in the world, I’ve become acutely aware of how insignificant my little span on earth is in relation to God’s timeless creation. I tried to capture my feelings in a poem. I will share that poem below and then follow up by expanding on my thoughts and reflections.

“Yosemite Rain”
Time cannot be understood
By this simple-minded man
I’m just a ring within the wood
Here and gone in a short span

But time is robbed of all its sting
Within Sequoia glens
For now it doesn’t mean a thing
It’s just as long as it has been

The bluest eyes I ever saw
Were born of violent pain
And my tears begin to fall
Like cold Yosemite Rain

Great monoliths of gleaming white
Are new upon the scene
Heaved and birthed by seismic might
As if they’d always been

Symbolic of the change of course
Plotted centuries ago
By a hellish, seething force
Far beneath the tranquil snow

The bluest eyes I ever saw
Were born of violent pain
And my tears begin to fall
Like cold Yosemite Rain

Gazing over this expanse
Surely puts you in your place
We only get a single chance
Life’s a journey, not a race

The bluest eyes I ever saw
Were born of violent pain
And my tears begin to fall
Like cold Yosemite Rain

 

The imagery in my poem is a blend of several of the places we have visited. Each of these places–which include three National Parks, Yosemite, Crater Lake, and Lassen Volcanic–put me in touch with God and gave me an appreciation for the natural processes used to create the beauty that surrounds us. These places also put the concept of time into clearer perspective in a dichotomous way. On one hand, these places make time harder to understand…particularly in a literal biblical interpretation of time. For instance, it is impossible for a reasonable person to visit Yosemite and come away believing that the earth is only 6,000 years old, an idea that some Christians try to sell in order to make the creation story in Genesis a literal 7 day period. All that mindset accomplishes is setting up a huge roadblock to detour people from the faith. There are Sequoia trees in Yosemite that have been standing for over 3,000 years and there are fallen monarchs that have been lying on the forest floor,  yet to decay, that were standing for many centuries before today’s giants were even sprouts. The Yosemite Valley was carved out over hundreds of thousands of years of glacial erosion. Time loses its meaning when you stand and take in these sights. On the other hand, these places make it easier to give up trying to figure time out and just accept it as is.

Crater Lake is another marvelous example of how God created a majestic place by using violent forces deep within the earth. Many thousands of years ago, there was a great towering mountain where the lake is today. Through one the most explosive seismic events ever seen on this continent, that volcano erupted and collapsed in upon itself, leaving a deep hole 5 miles by 6 miles in width. Over the course of millennia, a lake began to fill that hole. The only sources of water feeding that lake are snowmelt and rain. It is now the deepest lake in America, almost 2,000 feet deep. It also contains the clearest and purest water on earth, creating the bluest blue you’ve ever seen. Twenty-four hour days mean nothing to God.

Along the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington, we found unfathomable beauty around every turn. The vastness of the Pacific Ocean puts you in your place. There is still so much out there we know nothing about. We took a whale-watching excursion out into the Monterey Bay. Our guide told us that they are discovering new species of life in the deep trench just off the coast every year. Never before seen life living just a handful of miles from our “great civilization”. It makes the mind reel, as do the enormous whales swimming in those waters. We got to see close to a dozen Humpback Whales up close and personal. We got so close that, at one point, a whale surfaced just out from our boat and the mist of his breath emitting from the blowhole wafted over us. We smelled a strong, foul odor of rotted fish. Our guide told us that was the whale’s breath we were smelling. That was an incredibly humbling moment that I’ll never forget. The diversity of God’s creation is truly astounding.

For the past 10 days or so, I haven’t paid any attention to Trump, politics, or the news in general. I haven’t thought much about religion either, but I’ve thought an awful lot about God. I traveled 2,500 miles from home and found him in abundance out here. It’s been very good for my soul. It’s put a lot of things into perspective for me, most importantly, it’s put me in perspective. I have come to appreciate time for what it is. I have come to understand that life is not a race. Life is a journey. God made a wondrous place for us to roam during our short time here. It has become far too easy to lose sight of that.

"Those are your fears, not mine."

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