Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Linger Long

I noticed something quite peculiar while visiting Yellowstone National Park. Huge crowds gathered to wait for Old Faithful’s next eruption. Some who arrived shortly after the geyser’s last eruption would wait over an hour to watch the next one. They’d wait despite the weather. For example, one day the sunshine gave way to a sudden storm that produced thunder, lightning, and about an inch of ice pellets all over the ground. Even so, the visitors to Old Faithful stayed nearby. Some sought shelter inside the nearby buildings; others remained on the boardwalk.

But that was not the peculiar thing I observed. Neither was it the hush that descended upon the crowd as the time for the eruption neared. Neither was it the collective gasp of hundreds of onlookers as sprays of water and steam began spewing hundreds of feet into the air.
The peculiar thing I observed was the leaving of the crowd mere moments after the eruption began. As soon as most visitors had taken a photo or two, they rushed away to see another of the many wonders of Yellowstone.

I thought it odd that they chose not to linger even a few minutes to enjoy the awesome sight, which lasts less than five minutes. Five minutes!

Apparently, it isn’t easy to hold attention these days—no matter how riveting the performance. Sadly, far too many of us rush on to the next big event, eager to add one more thing to our been-there-done-that list.

We seem to have lost the ability to reflect on the wonder that is before us, whether that wonder is an erupting geyser or a flower flourishing in the cracks in the sidewalk.
How much better it would be if only we were like the people I observed sitting beside scenic sites they’d hiked more than a mile to see. Instead, after we’ve huffed and puffed to reach natural wonders like cascading waterfalls or crystal-clear lakes nestled at the bottom of snow-capped mountains, we pause only long enough to take a picture or two before hurrying back to the car to see what else is ahead.

We know little about quiet reflection and deep contemplation, both of which greatly relieve stress. But by our refusal to be still and enjoy the wonders of nature, we miss out on an even greater benefit: being prompted to worship the Creator.

For example, I doubt David could have written these beautiful words if he hadn’t spent time contemplating the beauty of nature and connecting what his physical senses were experiencing to what his spiritual senses were revealing to him:
Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness
reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like mighty mountains, your
justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the
shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your rivers of delight. For you are the fountain of
life, the light by which we see (Psalm 36:5-9, New Living Translation).

Oh, Dear Reader, may you and I learn to linger long in the presence of the Creator and His creation.

© 2006 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill. For permission to use, please contact her.

No comments: