Look Back in Wonder
“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.” – Psalm 71:1-6
A few years ago, I did a solo hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, spent two nights at Phantom Ranch, and then trekked back to the top. It was the fourth time I’ve done the hike, the first being when I was in college, the last ten years before. Not surprisingly it took me a bit longer to get back up this time.
Hiking the Grand Canyon is hiking a mountain in reverse. The hard part comes when you’re already tired and the rim is a mile from the bottom as the crow flies, except you’re not a crow and the trail up is nine miles long.
I have to admit that there were a couple times on the way up that I thought to myself, “This is truly the dumbest thing you have ever done.” Of course I think that at mid-point in every major hike. But as before, the journey was worth it. When you hike the Grand Canyon, you’re walking through literally billions of years of time and almost every eco-system on the planet, down to the center of the earth and back.
When I made it up to the top, I sat on the rim for a long time. I wanted to give my calves a rest and also simply look back down on the trail I’d just hiked. I was filled with a sense of wonder at both the Canyon’s deep beauty and the fact I’d made it down and up once again, proving once again that God loves fools.
“For you, O Lord, are my hope,” writes today’s Psalmist. She or he looks back on their life and knows that God has been “my trust, O Lord, from my youth.”
With the wisdom of the Psalmist, the old Gospel song proclaims, “My soul looks back in wonder at how I got over.” It’s a good thing do every once in a while along the way, whether you’re sitting on the rim of the Grand Canyon or in your living room. Look back in wonder at your journey and the One who’s been with you every step of the way.
Thank you, God, for walking with us and for the wonder of it all.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Worship for Vital Congregations, published by The Pilgrim Press.