What do you get when you open your Journaling Bible to reflect on a bucket list experience? It’s an epic Bible Journaling Journey! For me, that experience was my family’s trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona this summer. A couple spots at the Grand Canyon had short verses, mainly from Psalm, posted at them, so in honor of that, I decided to use a passage from Psalm for my Bible journaling page. I thought of how the trip felt like a restorative time of admiring God’s creation.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
The expanse of rock has etched itself unforgettably into my memories. The canyon seems to go on and on in a way that the mind almost cannot make sense of at first. As I stood and gazed from many view points, including Hermit’s Rest, Desert View, and the area near the Bright Angel Lodge, I had to remind myself that what I was seeing was real. I heard others around me say it too: I have to keep telling myself this is not a scene from a movie or a picture of Mars. It is real, and my mind cannot completely wrap itself around it.
Do I mind feeling small? Not really. I know I am small in the *grand* scheme of life. Yet, I have a God who created something so wild and beautiful that it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. Do I know exactly how He did it? Nope. I am okay with that (even though it sounds like Grand Canyon Ministries has some theories if I decide to seek that out). Just experiencing the beauty was plenty to fill my heart and mind for now.
As you view the canyon from different spots, it takes on whole new looks and shows different parts of its personality. For me, Desert View in the early morning was my very, very favorite. We woke up at 4 a.m. to get there really early before the crowds, way before the Desert View tower opens to visitors. Seeing it in the quiet of morning was so spectacular. For me, personally, the views that included the river were always my favorite because they looked more refreshing.
My second favorite spot was Hermit’s Rest because we made it there on our very first day at the canyon in the extreme heat of the day — and it really felt like a restful spot. My son took a nap on my husband in front of the giant fireplace that Mary Colter (an architect who left a beautiful mark on the south rim with a few structures that seem to pair really well with the particular view where she placed them) designed while I walked away from the crowds to see some beautiful views. Yes, you might be noticing, I am not a huge “crowds” person (lol). Introvert alert. The nice thing is that the canyon is so big, and if you time it right, you don’t really have to be overwhelmed by crowds. I never felt like it was really crowded, even at the peak times, but it just took longer to wait for the free buses to have room for riders.
My words and the pictures cannot do the Grand Canyon justice. Pictures cannot really capture it.
It’s not the perfect place. It is really, really hot this time of year. Even the bugs don’t want to live there because it’s so hot (seriously, don’t bother packing bug spray this time of year). We literally saw dead prickly pear cacti. It was so dry that even some of the cacti were dying! For me, it felt like a place of extremes — extreme heat, extreme beauty, extreme heights, extremely harsh in some aspects. I am used to living in a place where it rains a lot, so it was just different for me in that way. The dry heat dried out my nose, throat, and skin to the point that I wished I had a good saline spray and body lotion with me; it also gave my son nose bleeds by the end of the week. Yet, less-than-ideal aspects still felt small in relation to what we were getting to experience.
We saw lots of elk — their stature is regal compared to the deer I am used to seeing — and also jack rabbits with tall ears, squirrels that looked a little different from the ones at home, and one long horned sheep that was on the move. Besides the canyon itself, a highlight of the trip for us was seeing lots of pueblo ruins from the 1100s. In America, our opportunities to see historic sites rarely go back that far. It gave me chills to walk along the different ruins and think about how this was someone’s home long ago. We went to the Wupatki and Wukoki pueblos, along with the Tusayan ruins close to the canyon, and the dwellings of Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff. These structures are still recent compared to the history and people we read of in the Bible.
Sometimes I like to think about how many other people throughout history have walked the same paths that I am walking; in the Bible we can think about the spiritual paths people have taken, how they are similar or different from our own. It creates a sense of connection.
Bible Journaling Challenge: Think of a place or time that you felt restored. The New International Version of the verse says “refreshes.” Looking at Psalm 23, create a journaling page based on a memory of being restored or refreshed. Especially in the heat of summer or in a “desert season” in your life, the moments of refreshment are encouraging.