Friday, April 1, 2016

A Grande Shepherd Adventure (The Shepherds Go West)

Outside of Las Vegas, heading towards Arizona, the highways are straight and the land is clear. A turn from the main road found our rented Ford Expedition churning dust and our appetites growling in a desolate little town. The wind moved debris along the sides of the road and I waited to hear the whisp of the wind carry a faint soundscore like a Quentin Tarantino film.

A friendly face met us inside the diner as we relieved the boredom of a teenage girl with a smiling face and hair pulled into a wild ponytail. As we examined the menu of hotdogs done twenty ways, she gave us tips on navigating the Skybridge, our first stop on our trek along the rim of the Grand Canyon. 

Our family learned this week that Caleb is as sure footed as a mountain goat. "Goat" was often seen hoping from rock to rock as we all nervously watched from safe pavement. His feet were sure and he never slipped.

Into the looking glass we looked, the closer to the ledge you stood, the stronger the pull toward the edge seemed to pull at your body. Every direction was sheer wonder.

As soon as I spotted this summit, I knew that "Goat" would have to conquer it... and I knew that I'd follow his footsteps. Sure enough... with a look to his mother, a nod from her (and a quick unspoken glance to me that said, "Go with him") we were off.

Of course... not to be outdone, Aleksandra was with us. With the two of them in the lead and me behind to catch a slipped foot (on my head)... up we went.

The view from the top was unrivaled. We felt like Everest climbers as we surveyed the world from our peak.

After climbing, we were able to see the climb from a distance... our foots stepped where the ravens soared. What a cleansing moment it was of serenity and silence above the fray of the world. How ironic that within the danger of the climb we found a calm, silent embrace of our God.

I am held captive by the ravens. Their size was rivaled by their intelligence on the ground and grace in the sky. I defied park rules and earned the disdaining looks of others as I shared my lunch with this bold bird as he edged closer and closer to my reach. 

Sterling was full on monkey energy at every step. She saw the binoculars around my neck and was thrilled when Kellie found a little red pair at an official gift shop that was sized just for her. I paused with awareness that at five years old, Sterling will remember this trip prominently in her memory for the rest of her life. These are formative days. How amazing that we invest into her in this expansive place. The world is open to this young, inquisitive, bright mind.

Contemplation wasn't isolated to my own mind. I watched them as they watched the world. While they contemplated the landscape, I prayed for their future. Of all the amazing cuts in the earth, I realized that none of it rivaled God's preeminent creation... His children.

(Video... click the photo)

Obligatory selfie and cameo

"Goat in his element."
Sterling... strike a pose. #Vogue
Papaw "Live-Action" #photobomb
Seizing the day

Leo T. and Krena Shepherd, my parents hiking on the mountain edge.

The greatest surprise of this trip was the freezing temperatures. Hollywood had lied to me all of my life... the desert is not always hot! This was our coldest day with temperature reaching below freezing as snow whipped across our faces. Our family, transported from the mission field of Guatemala was not prepared.

Undeterred... we bundled up, soaked up heat like lizards when we found warm places... and continued on this trip of a lifetime. Surely the memories of experiences shared will far outweigh the temporary bite of the wind.

Desert View Watchtower, the memorial site of an airline crash, serves as both a symbol of improved aviation safety and a testament to the beauty of the landscape. 

What a powerful place to close the day. Surrounded by history, both of power, beauty, and pain. Life goes on. We rebuild through desolation. Beauty is enhanced as we celebrate life together. 

Surely... each day provides us both of these things, pain and beauty. Turn your eyes to the horizon. 

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