Like a stream of pilgrims, we and our company of fellow campers head toward one of many overlooks in Canyon Lands National Park to watch the sun set on the magnificent scenery.
I worm my way to a vacant spot behind the barricade and catch my breath as I take in the rugged beauty of the scene below. Coming out of my trance, I snap pictures of “Cleopatra’s Chair” silhouetted in the distance. I then make a one-eighty turn to capture the jagged cliffs disappearing into the haze of California fires.
Some of the more courageous observers settle themselves along a precarious ledge to watch quietly as the dying sun deepens the shadows and changes the colors. I take off in the opposite direction where the drop is not quite so precipitous. As I walk along the edge, I stop to watch a photographer aim her long, snout-nosed camera across the canyon, her face hidden by a wide-brimmed hat, her ponytail hanging nearly to her waist. She repositions the tripod, waits and finally shoots. I snap a few pictures of her against this grand backdrop. She straightens, scans the scene below, then realizes someone is behind her. She looks up … oops; she is a he. His expression says he does not appreciate my company, so I move on.
Back at the barricade, I see a young Chinese girl leaning into a fallen tree a few yards from the overlook. Her name is Sophia and she tells me she is afraid of heights. Like Sophia, her husband has a strong accent, not Chinese, however. German, I suspect, so I ask where they are from.
“Texas,” they say. Hmmm.
Early the next morning, we are awakened by the grumble of a diesel truck leaving the campground. Many other campers soon follow and we do too. Just as the sun rises, we stop at another overlook and follow the path to a natural bridge. The rising sun turns the underside of the bridge a brilliant red. A number of photographers are there to capture this popular scene for themselves. I am no exception.
As I follow the path back to the parking lot, I run into another fellow camper, a young artist who had been working on a painting of this famous bridge for several weeks. I met him at the campground and enjoyed watching him work. Weather permitting, he would carry the large four by eight foot canvas to the site of the bridge, work for the day, then take it back to the campground to fill in the details. While in the campground, I stopped often to watch him work. His blond hair is long and stringy and he wears a frayed straw hat that remarkably resembles Swiss cheese. Although he is rather eccentric, I like the fellow. Clutching my camera, I feel a connection. Like peas and carrots, I think. I learned a lot about the process of painting such a large piece.
Before we leave the overlook, we spot Sophia and her husband. She is crouching some distance from the overlook, her hands clammy with fear, and she wants to know if she was born this way. “Yes,” I assure her. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made that way.” And then, as we pull out of the parking lot, my husband remarks, “There’s your boyfriend,” and I wave enthusiastically at the painter.
We stop at one last overlook before leaving the park. Against this magnificent back drop, I wonder ... who am I that He should give me any consideration at all? Or Sophia that He is concerned about her vertigo? Or the painter who longs to capture the Almighty’s handiwork on canvas? Or the photographer who wants to get it just right?
I believe that all the beauty surrounding me and my fellow sojourners was created for our habitation and enjoyment. Still, it is only by faith in God’s grace that I can believe it. Unbelievable still is the fact that one day it will all disappear. Only those who have acknowledged the Creator and given Him his due praise and glory will go on to live in an eternity that is far more magnificent than that which was. No eye has seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love him.
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