I remember the first time the wilderness caught my heart.
It was spring, and my family was on a long-overdue trip to the Grand Canyon. (We made up for that by visiting 4 out of the next 5 consecutive years, but that’s another story.) My dad, always up for an adventure in the wilderness we could do together, floated the idea of getting up early to enjoy the sunrise over the canyon.
So 6am found four of us at Mather Point, chilly in our hoodies and windbreakers, but ready for – what?
The canyon below was dusky and shadowed. Slowly, the red rim of the sun rose over the edge of the world to the east. And suddenly, the canyon was filled with the most glorious light.
It took my breath away; I felt tears sting in my eyes from the sheer beauty. I had never, ever, in all my 11 years, seen anything so beautiful – anything that stole my heart and carried it away.
I’ve had the joy of seeing the sunrise over the canyon four times since then (though at least two of those were with cloud cover; not so great a view). And it never gets old. As long as I’m on this earth, I’m sure every sunrise over the Grand Canyon (that isn’t obscured by clouds) will steal my heart again. It fills me up, it leaves me without words, it makes me want to take pictures; to try and capture the uncapturable beauty before my eyes.
As I said before, I tried to push away the heart-capturing power of the wilderness; to be practical enough to enjoy without my heart, without my passion.
But passion doesn’t work that way. As the song goes, “I learned that love don’t hold its tongue, and passion doesn’t bow to what they think.”
You can’t love without passion, and you can’t have passion without engaging your heart.
If you want to love the wilderness – if you want to access God’s love for the wilderness – you have to engage your heart. To let your heart feel, to let your emotions go, to touch the intangible before your eyes.
It took a number of years, but I did learn to engage my heart in the wilderness. But that’s a story for another day…