There are experiences in life that take a long time to process — sometimes a whole life long. Usually, they are related to people or ideas, but seldom places . Deering, for instance, is a sacred place to me because of the people I know there. Conferences and other experiences that are chock-full of new knowledge can take weeks to sink in and years to use.
Today, the family and I went to the Grand Canyon. The magnitude of this place will take me some time span to process, just as the place took some time span to be created. I hope to post pictures to the blog at some point, but for right now let me say it is big in ways that someone who hasn’t experienced it can’t even imagine.
When I was a boy, I remember Evel Knievel was going to jump the Canyon on a motorcycle. By the time he attempted it, his vehicle looked more like a rocket ship. The pictures of the Canyon were spectacular. The place was simply too big and he failed, but we got a sense of how insurmountable the Canyon was. The part of the Canyon, where it might be close enough to try-and-fail is a smidgen – a teeny bit of the canyon.
Nearly the first step onto soil at the canyon was a small medallion put into the concrete that said “this rock is 1.7 million years old”. I scoffed to myself that they clearly hadn’t asked fundamentalists, who believe the earth is only 6,000 or so years old. It’s not something I waste my time thinking about, given the way I view the Bible, but as the day went on, I realized that a number like 6,000 represents a simple failure of imagination. I think about history and I can consider from World War I as real events. Beyond that, years are only numbers in a history book with stories and meaning, but without any reality I can comprehend. I can consider back to Jesus and maybe back to Abraham, but the time before that is simply not comprehensible — it doesn’t exist in my head — and I consider myself an imaginative guy.
The Grand Canyon is beyond imagination. It drops somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. It goes as far as you can see on the horizon. We spent probably 5 hours there and you just knew you weren’t seeing anything. The cracks, crevices, striations, outcroppings of rock, the lines, the colors, the wind formations are just everywhere.
There are no measurements by which you can say , “it’s this big”. And if there is, it’s a number with exponents in it — a number far greater than I can conceive of in any real way. That is the point of the Grand Canyon. It says to you “take what you can imagine about size or years or anything else. Then multiply that by a million, then go beyond that and you have some idea of what’s possible”. Eons, light years, curves in the time-space continuum can exist because the Canyon does. The way we see the Canyon is how God sees the Universe.
While there, you can see how Native Americans could believe that it was the entire world, just as Europeans wrote, “There be dragons” beyond the
horizon of their imagination and that was their world.
It’ll take a while to process the magnitude of the Canyon. For now, let me just say, “Wow”.