Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beauty of the Valley

{Death Valley National Park, California}
I love Death Valley.

The vastness of it, the emptiness, the loneliness.

It's strangely comforting.

While standing in the middle of what many would consider wasteland and somewhere they'd never want to be, I think you can get a really good sense of just how small we are compared to God's majesty.

It literally surrounds you.

There's nothing for miles, and yet there is. Because what we blithely consider "nothing" is really His hand at work, forming, shaping, and changing the landscape around you.

In a place that's been named for its desolation and despair, miracles are everywhere if you know what you're looking for...

... tiny pupfish dart about in the shallow creek bed on the valley floor...

... glossy smooth rock curve into beautiful forms with mysterious splashes of color from the different minerals that compose it...

... shifting dunes make you feel as if you're in the Sahara as the wind whips the super-fine sand around your ankles...

... pops of color appear along the road as the desert flowers bloom due to winter rains...

... and just the openness itself can lure you in until your soul feels nearly one with the universe.

The sky is huge above you and usually cloudless; at night, because there's no city or lights around, it gets as dark as the world once was before humans arrived and all there was were stars.

I believe one can find beauty in the barren and feel content amidst the cacti.

Peace is here, even as the world wars against the elements and contradictions flourish.

Where else would you find a 40,000 mile acquifer pool located beneath a desert so hot, it spends about eight months of the year baking under a sun that keeps ground temperature at about 200 degrees in the heat of the day?

I really do love Death Valley and despite its name, I personally feel amazingly alive while I'm there.

Maybe it's the challenge it represents, maybe it's the fact that the starkness of it contrasts so vividly with the life that you're living that you realize just how blessed you are, maybe it's just God's creation at its finest.

If He takes care of the creatures and the plants that dwell in this vast, arid desert, don't you think He'd watch over you, too?

God made deserts for a reason, just like there's forests and mountains and oceans and plains. Surely you can understand, then, why there must also be times of great joy and of heartache in our own lives. It all has a purpose and your time in the valley makes getting up to those mountains even better.


If you have any questions about where to go when you visit Death Valley, leave me a comment! I've been there more than once, so I've got some tips on my favorite places to go and what to see while you're there. It really is a fabulous place to road trip.

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