Summer Road Trip Series: Part V All Things Grand – A Sunset for the Ages

By: Marianna Boyce

After driving 2,000 miles in forty-eight hours, we were on target to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world before nightfall. I’m a fool for amazing sunsets, so having a unique opportunity to witness one at the Grand Canyon in Arizona was a gift from God Himself. Rest assured, this particular visit was unlike any other.

Before unpacking my personal experiences, I’ll share a few interesting tidbits of information about this internationally famous landmark.

The Grand Canyon was formed millions of years ago. It stretches for 277 miles and is eighteen miles wide. Millions of people from all around the world choose to visit this popular destination each year.

The natural force of plate tectonics and subduction lifted the Colorado Plateau high, and to this day, it remains relatively flat. This uplift was a key element to the formation of a majestic sight, allowing erosion to take over when the Colorado River cut back down into the canyon creating this natural beauty.

grand canyon 2

Gazing into the gorge from lookout points high above, you can see this mighty river—only if you squint. If you didn’t know it was there, you may not even notice it. Some believe there’s no way this itty-bitty river—as compared to the enormity of the canyon—could’ve carved this astonishing sight.

Fossils of fish and sea creatures have been discovered at the top of this famous canyon. This sounds reasonable, especially since the uppermost layer of rock was actually formed at the bottom of the ocean.

Some on the other hand, have said the massive waters of God’s Great Flood in Noah’s day created this gigantic chasm in the earth. Sure, Noah didn’t witness this grand event. God saw fit to place his ark at the top of Mount Ararat in modern day Turkey. Nonetheless, water did cover the entire earth several thousand years ago. Could it be the fossils of fish and sea creatures in the top layer of the canyon are from this historical flood once the waters began to subside?

No matter your belief, the Grand Canyon should be on everyone’s bucket list.

A Double Rainbow to Kiss the Clouds
My Personal Experience

As we approached Grand Canyon National Park, it started drizzling rain. Since the Bible says to pray about everything, Gerry, Cody, and I did just that. We were all confident God could halt the rain, but He must’ve needed to test our faith because the nearer we drew, the heavier the drops became.

As we approached the front gate to purchase our parking pass, we concluded God had a wonderful sense of humor because a heavy downpour had officially ensued, but as quickly as it began, this gully-washer also abruptly stopped. We didn’t see or feel one drop of rain once we entered the park. I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Well, maybe a little…

We slowly drove through the heavily wooded area absorbing the wonder of it all. There were lots of rabbits, squirrel, deer, and elk close by, but no canyon to speak of. Gerry and I were here in 2015 so we already knew, but Cody was curious where this natural wonder was hiding. This great canyon doesn’t visibly appear until you walk around the first bend of the walking path after parking the car. It isn’t there until suddenly, it is.

grand canyonThe initial sight of it is truly awe-inspiring.

It was an hour before sunset so our timing was impeccable; however, we were still contending with a blanket of clouds looming from the thunderstorm that ignited about eighty miles back around Flagstaff. We all surmised a sunset scene might possibly be out of the question, and that would be okay, but we’d no more uttered those words than something miraculous occurred.

The ominous curtain of clouds rolled back as if the portals of heaven opened about the time the sun began to dip behind the canyon walls. The sculpted land masses proudly stood as if they themselves commanded those clouds to clear, but we all know who it was. Only God could have orchestrated such an event.

The late-day sun peeking through after the rainstorm created a brilliant double rainbow that kissed the menacing clouds in the distance. The sunbeams were shimmering on the rim of the canyon walls just before disappearing for another cool night.

When the evening revealed this magical moment, a complete silence fell over the crowd. Time stood still, and in reverence, we all did the same. The splendor God exhibited by revealing such a sunset for thousands of people visiting from all around the world couldn’t have been more perfect.

We witnessed one of the most majestic sights anyone could ever see. I could almost hear the angels singing the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

I certainly didn’t want to miss this moment by looking through a lens on my iPhone, so this sacred picture is unapologetically saved in my mind’s eye.

As we exited the park at nightfall, the temperature dropped dramatically. Once we were safely in the car, it started raining relentlessly—again. We doubled back to Flagstaff to hopefully find a room for the night. That was the plan anyway.

I was amazed how these events transpired, but God wasn’t finished. By the end of this night, He would reveal Himself to us in a very different way. Our safety and protection depended on it…

 

Nature Deficit Disorder

By Shannon Boatwright

My name is Shannon and I am suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder.

I read a most fabulous article in the recent Columbia Metropolitan Magazine, titled “Forest Bathing – A walk in the woods for the soul” by Warren Hughes.  What a wonderful read and at a time in my life when I’m definitely at a deficit for getting outdoors to enjoy myself. Ironically the only reason I even had the opportunity to relax and read was because my back was hurting so bad after a long school day of moving too many heavy objects around on my stage at school and my sweet husband had prepared the bathtub for me so I would soak in an epsom salt bath and hopefully feel better. I made myself put up my phone and actually try to relax. I took the opportunity to flip through the latest magazine that had come in the mail that I had not had the time to look at in the past weeks.  As I soaked and read, I was pleasantly surprised at the inspiring information within the magazine. It was almost as if the universe was sending me a very strong message!

Rainbows over Lake Murray, SC

Rainbows over Lake Murray

According to what I read, I totally have a nature deficit disorder!  Being a drama teacher, whose classroom is a stage – a large room with NO windows, and whose office is a small concrete room, with NO windows, who spends hours upon hours after school directing productions in theatres, with NO windows, …well, it starts to wear on you after many years. Especially during the school year’s busy season of productions and after school commitments, I get home exhausted and taking a walk or bike ride just doesn’t seem like an option.

But I know well enough that it’s something I can’t put off. Like exercise, I realize that it’s a requirement in order to feel better overall. I have to make it happen. Even when I’m so busy. Yes, even when I’m so busy! I don’t want to be the person that always says, “someday or whenever I’m finally less busy, I’ll do such and such.” At this point in my life I have to recognize the importance of making it a priority and a requirement so that I can live my healthiest life, mentally and physically.

Last summer when I had the honor and great privilege of traveling to France and Switzerland with my mother, I was truly refreshed, invigorated, inspired and overwhelmed in a most wonderful way being in, breathing in and seeing a part of nature I’d never ever seen before. Being in that beauty, in person, was truly glorious. There really are no words to adequately describe it.

Nature's Glory in Switzerland

Nature’s Glory in Switzerland

Switzerland Overflows with Nature's Beauty

Switzerland Overflows with Nature’s Beauty

Quoting John Muir in the article, John Cely says, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.”

I mean, come on! Is that not beautiful!? I know I could really use some of nature’s peace flowing into me like sunshine flows into trees! And who doesn’t want cares and worries to drop from your body like the leaves of autumn?

Sipping Coffee Amongst the Gorgeousness of France

Sipping coffee amongst the gorgeousness of France

In the article it speaks of getting into nature as an imperative, not just a luxury. It’s crucial. Crucial to our well-being on so many levels.  There are studies that prove that being indoors for too long is literally physically and mentally bad for our health. It makes complete sense to me. Our society’s dependency on screens, all our gadgets that we of all ages seem to be so addicted and attached to nowadays, is turning us all into very sick people. It’s a sad state of unwell being.

How do we deal in today’s society? How do we combat this overwhelming deficit? Awareness is a start for sure. This idea of a disorder resulting from a nature deficit is no new concept. It’s been growing for decades, most of us have just been too busy in front of our screens to notice.

In The Nature Fix, subtitled “Why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative,” bestselling author Florence Williams explores state-of-the-art research from three continents to explain the inestimable benefits that spending time in nature has on the body, mind, and soul.

Columbia Metropolitan Magazine

“Forest Bathing – A walk in the woods for the soul” by Warren Hughes

I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would argue that getting outdoors isn’t good for you. It just makes sense. Mother Nature is not just powerful in negative ways, her amazing, positive ways far outweigh the negative. She has a glorious abundance of healing power and beauty to offer if we just take the time to see it, be in it and experience it.

Even in the Suburbs, Nature's Beauty is Present

Even in the suburbs, Nature’s Beauty is Present

Now that I’m aware of my deficiency, I plan to dedicate time to fixing it and filling more of my time refreshing myself basking in nature’s glory. Like so many others, I need it. I know I need it. My body, my mind, my heart, my soul needs to soak in the healing powers of nature. It lies right outside my door and doesn’t have to cost me a thing, doesn’t even have to cost me tons of time. A bit of an awakening is on the horizon – one that will benefit me on many positive levels. I’m ready for journeys and adventures that will allow peace, freshness and energy to flow into me! Here’s to combating the nature deficit disorder!