Seeing God at Zion
October 30, 2019
Just a few weeks ago, our Music and Arts directing duo Tim and Dana Effler visited Zion National Park, a 229-square-mile canyon in southwestern Utah filled with red-tinged and tan-colored Navajo sandstone. One of the most famous hikes at Zion is Angel’s Landing, and is not one for the faint of heart. While the views at the top of Angels Landing are breathtaking, that final climb along the narrow ridge, complete with chain-assisted rock scrambling sections, make it a thrilling (read: scary) hike.
So, after the emotional rollercoaster of Angel’s Landing, Bryce Canyon was a nice change of pace. Located about two hours from Zion, it’s Utah’s smallest national park, but it offers some of the most incredible sights.
Below, Dana talks about how their experiences in the park delivered a powerful spiritual reminder.
Our first sight in Bryce Canyon was Inspiration Point, with its panoramic views of the spectacular amphitheater filled with hundreds of Hoodoos. I had never heard of a Hoodoo by the way, before arriving in the park, but I learned that Hoodoos (tall thin spires of rock) were named by the Paiute Indians who lived there around 1200 AD. I also learned that Bryce Canyon isn’t really a canyon. About 15 million years ago the area we see today was completely submerged under water in a large lake.
Seeing this breathtaking vista from the overlook is spectacular, but we were itching to get a closer look, so we took the Navajo Trail down into the canyon. As we started down, we paused to photograph the series of switchbacks leading to the basin. Pristine and clean swept, the trail was perfectly framed by salmon colored soft stone walls. We were taken aback by just how pristine it looked, almost too perfect, looking more like a Disney set than something that would be found in nature (this is a little embarrassing, I must admit — not sure what it says about us… too many youth choir trips to Disney World, I guess).
Anyway, as we continued down the trail, it was as if we were descending into God’s very own sculpture garden. Made of soft rock, the Hoodoos protrude up from the bottom of the arid drainage basin in an unimaginable variety of shapes and archways, looking like chess pieces, queens and cathedrals. Because the rock is soft, it absorbs water from rainfall and snow melt, and when the water evaporates and the rocks dry, erosion happens which makes the unusual shapes we see today. Because of this natural phenomenon, the landscape is always changing.
I was struck not only by the indescribable beauty of Hoodoo rock formations, fragrant Ponderosa pines and vibrant blue sky, but also by the realization that if I return again, the scenery will have changed, even the rock formations, and that God’s creative hand is still at work. That realization made me pay attention to my surroundings with an acuity to God and God’s creation in the present moment.
I was keenly aware that day that I was in the midst of God’s intricate art project and was overcome with a sense of gratitude that God’s work and creativity is ongoing, always moving, changing and evolving. Through all the changes God is always present sustaining, guiding, inspiring, wooing and loving.
Our environment, our lives, our church continue to evolve and change, but with each new crack and crevice, God is doing a new thing. God is still creating and is always, always loving, and I can say with Julian of Norwich, “And all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.”