Trekking across the wide expanse of land that comprises the western part of the United States of America, there was once one person who first stumbled over the Grand Canyon.
I can only barely imagine how he felt.
I have seen photos, so I was prepared in some degree. But the sheer . . . . largeness staggered me.
We left Santa Fe, with its rich history and perfect weather and pretty scenery and fake adobe buildings.
(Even the McDonald’s was faux adobe. We called it . . . . faudobe.)
And we reached Grand Canyon National Park just before sunset. It had rained a little, so the air in between the south and north rim slightly hazy.
(For a better view of the photos, click on them.)
And it was so huge that I could physically not absorb it all. I would fill my eyes with as much of it as possible, and still see barely a quarter of what was available to be seen. It is should be the definition of “overwhelming”.
The very thought of hiking it me breathless.
And then I realized that we were at 7000 feet above sea level, and it was probably just the thinner atmosphere that impeding my breath.
It should have stunned my with wonder, left me speechless at the Glory of God.
But I am afraid to admit that I only felt . . . numb. It is pretty. Huge. Scary.
However, it is almost alienating in its grandeur.
Chesterton is right when he says in Orthodoxy that when we love something we call it in a diminuative; the small and delicate tugs on out hearts in ways that the awe-inspiring never can.
The photo above is more intriguing than the others, is it not? A photographer will tell you that it is because the frame is formed and the eyed directed by the ceder tree.
I think it is because the ceder there gives the photo the feeling of the immediate, the personal, the tactile, and, yes, the small.
We can gasp in awe at the huge and sweeping, but it is the small and tender that reaches into our own cozy worlds and takes our breath away.
Wondrous works of Nature can never move you like your first sight of your first child.
At least, I imagine that it can’t.
The Grand Canyon, (or, as they call it there, Grand Canyon, sans article,) is beautiful.
But I prefer the quieter, more homelike prettiness of Flagstaff. We only passed through the town, (well, and stopped for gas,) but I fell in love with it. The smaller, gentler beauties are enough for me.
Flagstaff is a city with a small country town feel. It has the attitude and pretty pine and birch forests reminiscent of my favorite place on earth: Northern Michigan. But it also has surrounding mountains!
Could it be that I have found my own personal Heaven on Earth?