Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Beauty of the Badlands

While driving from Idaho to Omaha in September, I had the privilege of spending a night camping in South Dakota's Badlands National Park, just outside the Black Hills and about an hour from Rapid City. I rarely journal, but after spending a few hours driving and walking around the buttes in the moonlight, I immediately sat down and wrote. Here's an excerpt from my notebook, as well as the context I wrote for it in last week's sermon before deleting it for brevity. (Picture credit.


Being there at night under a full moon and a clear sky is something else – not because it’s pretty, although it is, but because it’s so amazingly spiritual. It’s okay to look out over the buttes, but when you walk down into them and head back a little ways into the wilderness area, it’s like you’ve left the planet. I wrote in my journal that night,

Still struggling to find the right adjectives. It is an uncapturable experience. It was a moment and a place, and such things do not conflate with pen and paper. It was religious, and beautiful in an eery way. It was almost like a moon, but with greenery. And thanks to the owl and crickets, it was so alive! And not a single other person. I had been transported in a way I never had been before. For once, I was glad to be along during a wonderful moment. It was all so ancient, and made me feel safe in an edgy way.

But I was not really alone. I was with God. And the drive back to my campsite a few hours later was something else, too – I had to stop repeatedly for stampeding bison, charging prairie dogs, and a 15-point buck!

There are moments in life – children discovering the joy of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly; pilots, as John Magee says, slipping the surly bonds of earth and joining the tumbling of sun-split clouds; fisherman enjoying the calm tranquility of a still lake; farmers feeling the wise wind of the cornfield on their face or taking in the awesome power of a prairie storm; city slickers walking in a park to escape the grime and the crime – there are moments in life when we know that God loves us not because we see God in our air ducts or our transmissions, but because we feel God in the midst of God’s creation.

Here's something I found on YouTube:


WR said...

I am reminded that Ekhart Toli (sp?) said some like he rarely uses the word God as it conjures up so many literal notions that humans stop thinking once the word is uttered. Still when one is confronted with the majesty of the Bad Lands it is nearly impossible not experience the Divine and the sense of universal eternity. Nice post. It will be an even greater comfort when the flatness of your new state! :)

Anonymous said...

Great entry and glad to hear you enjoyed Badlands National Park. What a beautful and serene image you posted as well. Hope you will visit again.

South Dakota Office of Tourism