Over the Memorial Day weekend I went with friends on a 3 day camping trip to Havasupai, down inside the Grand Canyon. This is a magical place of living waters. It requires a 12 mile hike in and out, but it can be savored along the way, and I had a marvelous time. The aquamarine water is clear and brisk, springing from a deep underground aquifer that leaks out the canyon wall and flows down in pools and waterfalls on its way to the Colorado river. It was a time to get away from it all, to be with dear friends and feel close to my Heavenly Father. While I was there I felt like everything was going to work out and be okay; despite my fears, I just needed to continue to have faith in the Lord.
The hike out the canyon was the most daunting part of the trip. We elected to begin in the late afternoon, once the shadows were in the canyon, and hoped to be out by dark. The radiant golden light of the western sun lit up the high layers of white sandstone, casting warm light below that was soaked up by the red and ochre tones of the stone layers around me. I thought of hymns and hummed the melodies as I marched up the dry creek bed towards the waiting switchbacks that rise steeply up the canyon wall at the trailhead. It wasn't going to be fun, but there was no other way out. After two thirds of the way my feet began to hurt with hotspots, I had used up most of my water, and everyone else I was hiking out with were way ahead of me. I didn't like the idea of being the old slow poke and making others wait for me, but I was doing my best and that was all I could do.
After hiking about ten miles, with the two most difficult miles yet to go at the shoulder of the rim, I paused to rest. I prayed to my Heavenly Father for help--I needed Him to lift me up and give me confidence that I could do this. . . before the darkness settled in! I started up the switchbacks and felt as though charged with new energy and joy for being there, even though it was tough and challenging. I paused at every other switchback and waited a minute to catch my breath and for my heart rate to slow down, enjoying the view and splendor of the last rays of sunlight. When I was almost to the top, the sun made its final glint of glory before dipping below the far rim of the canyon. At that moment, I raised both my hands up in the air, feeling such gratitude for the blessing of being there. And since I was all by myself, I felt inspired to proclaim out loud to the rocks below me: "There is a God!" After looking at the expanse of space and sky beyond me, I felt again to repeat and magnify the thought: "There is a God in the Heavens!!" But I could not stop the prompting of the Spirit speaking to my mind, so again I spoke out loud: "There is a God in the Heavens who loves me!!!" Then I knew what I wanted to say next, without any prompting, "There is a God in the Heavens who loves me, and I love Him."
I reached the top feeling great, so alive and thankful for making it, and my son-in-law was cheering me on for the last few hundred steps. Surely there is analogy here with our mortal journey, is there not?
When I returned home from Havasupai I had an email waiting for me from a man I've known for years, asking if I were still available for employment. This person owns a food company in Oregon, and he was hoping I might be interested in his company. I flew out the next week for a job interview, and what he really wanted to know about me was where I saw my life's priorities and values, a personal question that almost blew me away. I responded frankly--my family, my career, my faith. I have since joined his company, and I am responsible for new product innovation, which is just exactly what I want to do. My new home is now in Oregon, which actually is my old home, since I was born and raised in Oregon and left 30 years ago... so this is a home-coming that goes beyond my longing hopes to a dream come true. I am simply thrilled with the new job, and credit my 8 month ordeal to the Lord's knowledge of where I could end up and holding out for me when I might have caved in.
Truly, there is a God in the Heavens who loves me, and I love him.
P.S. Just in case you're wondering, the Gecko will always remain a part of me and this blog. Anyways, I don't particularly want to morph into a salamander or a banana slug, even if they are more prevalent here in the great Pacific Northwest.