Monday, September 26, 2011

Out of Sight

During an afternoon of driving and hiking to and around Palouse Falls yesterday, I was struck by so many things surprising and wonderful to my eyes. Rounding a corner of the dry, fall-brown countryside studded with dark rocks and scattered with sagebrush to see startling spring green filling farmer's fields, resting under the silver lines and sprays of irrigation pipes and the slowly moving backs of Hereford and Angus behind even fences. Parking at the Falls and walking to the edge of the drop-off to gaze down at more water than you typically see in Moscow over months of time just hurling itself into the ravine like a suicide throwing his life away from a high bridge.

A little later, I wandered away from my friends (who were all either swimming in the pool downstream from the waterfall, or resting, watching and chatting from the rocks) to creep along one side of the rocky walls of the ravine toward the falls itself. The rocks became more slippery, coated with brilliant green vegetation and sludgy mud. The sound of the falls was like thunder, drowning out the voices of my companions, and the power of its rush downward created a wind that drove the constant mist at me like a winter storm. I shielded my eyes from the sting, thinking of the ocean, and craned my neck to look up along the torrent of water to the craggy rocks at the top of the falls. There, 160 feet above, where we had been some thirty minutes before, the water just continued to curve white and blue in a never-ending rush. Hundreds of gallons of it, continued to pour over the falls the entire time I was there.

So much water. So much strength, and voice, and so much moisture. All of those droplets that have existed since creation, are now, here, appearing at the top of this falls and plummeting to crash in the dark blue pool beneath. All this water that is in front of me, that God meant for me to see and feel spitting against my face, for me to wade into with my sandy shoes and sweaty socks, that He planned to lap against these rocks with quiet reverberation, that He wanted me to taste on my lips and to darken and droop my hair, and that He fore-ordained to wash away the blood from my throbbing ankle and the sticky apple juice from my fingers. All of this water has been around since before Adam. The molecules bumping into one another and hooking up to form the Mickey Mouse head of H2O, traveling the circuit from sky to earth and ocean to sky again. God does that, and God made us meet today, and God will carry it onward all this week to other destinations. It will have other stories besides me kneeling and trailing my dry fingers in its life, stories besides these young men swimming in their jeans, and muddy converse on slick stones, and the long, stringy seaweed clinging to the vertical wall of rock on both sides of the falls for hundreds of feet. The water it keeps on keeping on. God sustains this with the words of His mouth, and by His love draws its story on, fuller and richer and more complex and beautiful with the passage of time.

It stuns me to realize the hugeness of the world, the glory in even one small part of it. Sometimes it is the little things that make me really think. Sometimes it isn't even something important like people being born and loving and marrying and dying 4,000 miles from here with their own struggles and homes and religions and diseases. It is something like a waterfall just under 2 hours' drive from my town, invisible until you are right upon it, but so very alive and thrumming with God that I can't believe I've never seen it before. It is just some water going through a chasm in the rocks. But this waterfall has been here far longer than the 4 years I have lived in this region, and I never knew the place. The waters of this fall have been moving and working green and satisfying thirst and going salty as sweat and evaporating upward into clouds and falling as evening rain for thousands and thousands of years, sustained by the word of God.

I see so little, and God is so much bigger. My eyes glimpse and shimmer and blink in amazement and gratitude, and then I turn to my next creaturely duty. I will forget again for a while how there are great stories in this molecule of water, this particle of dust, this portion of the universe. But God never loses sight of any of it. He never ceases to speak story into this world, and to love into existence.

#98. Wind in an open window on the highway
99. A bleach-white snake skeleton, dry and still gently shaping S with even its death
100. The crag of a rock under fingertips, and that it bears weight
101. Watching a crow soar along the canyon below us
102. New friends and conversation
103. Emptying one's shoes of all kinds of dirt and stones and tying them snugly again
104. Climbing up a narrow crevasse, and the view framed by this narrow V when you look backward
105. Safety
106. Raindrops in a sky of sunset, spilling a double curve like an oil-color over the grey
107. Wheat stubble turning to heaps of gold along both sides of the highway
108. 65 mph speed limits
109. The goodness of physical tiredness and mental adrenaline after time spent outdoors

1 comment:

  1. Next time I come to Moscow, I hope we can go here.

    Thanks for this thought provoking post.