The therapeutic quality of a big hole in the ground

So, my son and I went to Arizona to watch Spring Training baseball games. My divorce was in full swing and we just had to get out of town to let out some of our angst.

I don’t know what it takes to get a job at a Motel 6 – if you have to go to college and earn a degree in something or not. But here’s what happened.

We had seen a couple of good baseball games, sat in the sun, enjoyed each other’s company (at least I did his). I noticed that all of the license plates there said, “Arizona, the Grand Canyon State” and asked Luke, “Hey, do you want to go to the Grand Canyon?” Neither of us had ever been there and in our decidedly devil-may-care frame of mind, we agreed it was an adventure waiting for us – father and son.

I went down to the motel office and asked the guy behind the counter, who reminded me of Oscar Madison, the sloppy guy in the Odd Couple, “How long does it take to drive to the Grand Canyon from here?” I knew how to get there – there are only so many highways in the state; I just didn’t know how long the trip would take.

Oscar, who had hair uncombed since Kindergarten and was wearing a very worn cardigan sweater, put a quizzical look on his unevenly shaven face, hesitated slightly, and answered, “Isn’t that it California?” Now the quizzical look was on my face, along with some more-than-quizzical-thoughts in my mind.

“No — I really don’t think so. Thanks anyway.” They really should teach geography in the public school.

We got the scoop from someone who knew the state a little better and went north to the famed and grandest of America’s canyons.

You have to traverse the bulk of the state to get there, and we were shocked that Arizona is much more than desert and tumbleweed – talk about not knowing one’s geography. We oohed and aahed at mountains with snow on them, stunning red rock cliffs, majestic forests, and yes – desert. But nothing prepares you for what you see at the canyon itself. Along with everyone else who has ever seen it, we were surprisingly blown away! We took dozens of photos, but to no avail. No two-dimensional image will ever suffice to represent the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. Go and see for yourself what God did.

We arrived at sunset. We unpeeled ourselves from our small rental car, intending to stretch, like a dog does first thing in the morning, but our initial sight of it made us forget. We stood for several minutes without saying anything, not even any “Oh man’s!” Those, and others, poured out later.

The next morning I wrote in my journal:

“Thank you, Lord for inventing grandeur such as this. Whether you made this canyon as-is or “hid” it only to let time and a river unveil it, you are the Artist – and I thank you for sharing it with Luke and me. We needed this.”

I need a “Creation Fix” like this as much as a junkie needs to shoot up. I live as far from the ocean now in San Francisco as I care to (about three miles), so I take a weekly trek to the beach down the coast to get my fix. If not the ocean, I find my way to some hills or mountains as often as I can to recharge my sense of beauty in our world. But the din of color and silent space at the canyon was therapeutic to our troubled minds; and our grief was temporarily alleviated.

Again in my journal I said:

“My suffering was eclipsed by your artistry, as well as by spending this quality time with the son of my heart. Thank you, Lord, for this magnificent old canyon called “Grand” and this wonderful young man named Luke.” 

One Reply to “The therapeutic quality of a big hole in the ground”

  1. Barney, When I was sick with cancer wondering if God really cared about me with a world swirling in chaos, He pointed me to Job. I read the account of when God was asking Job who or what created like Him; Job couldn’t answer. Then I looked out of the window from my hospital room; there before me were the rugged Wasatch Mountain range, Utah. God quietly assured me if He could create that mighty mountains He certainly notices me and will take care of me. And He did and He continues to do so.


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