Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tenacious Forces for Change

Grand Canyon near Flagstaff AZ
Driving cross country is a treat and to see familiar things through my six year old's eyes is priceless.  The national weather service warned about bad weather but after dodging flakes and drops in the Plains, we're  sweltering in 80+ degree Phoenix.
Three sites along our planned route this week have long been among my favorites; the sites don't seem any different than from my childhood family treks.  Much like picking up a good book and discovering new treasures in the plot, these sites are comfortable, familiar and somehow new.
The idea of the day is TENACIOUS IMPACT.

With plenty of quiet time to think with my guys fast asleep in the back seat, I started to reflect on the model for change represented by the  Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, and Arches National Park.

As a child I remember being very impressed by the sheer size of these sites.  I would soak up the facts presented by the rangers and the interpretive centers. Today during a fast read of brochures (probably printed when I was a kid!) a couple of thoughts kept rumbling through my head as we drove.

GRAND CANYON EROSION:  The most powerful force to create the Canyon was erosion, primarily by water (and ice) and secondarily by wind. Other forces that contributed to the Canyon's formation are the course of the Colorado River itself, vulcanism, and  continental drift. Because the soil in the Grand Canyon is baked by the sun it tends to become very hard and cannot absorb water when the rains come. 

Peacemakers can be used to help erode away everything that is unhelpful and unhealthy in our society.   It's not so much about creating and building, but carving out everything that isn't helpful, honoring or good. We may be one drop of water separately, but the hardened, unbending hearts that are unable to absorb our collective flood for peace will simply be washed away when we are unified.  I think about my grandchildren's children and seven generations from now... I pray that their world will look remarkably different (and better!) because of what you and I are doing right now in 2011.
Arches National Park, Moab UT

Similarly, water and ice, extreme temperatures and underground salt movement are responsible for the sculptured rock scenery of Arches National Park. On clear days with blue skies, it is hard to imagine such violent forces, or the estimated 100 million years of erosion that created this land that boasts the greatest density of natural arches in the world. The more than 2,000 catalogued arches range in size from a three-foot opening, the minimum considered an arch, to the longest one, Landscape Arch, which measures 306 feet from base to base. New arches are being formed and old ones are being destroyed.

Erosion and weathering are relatively slow:  This process relentlessly creates and recreates these dynamic arch landforms over time.  Even if we don't see the change, time marches on.  Don't be discouraged, change WILL come.  A tiny hole today could be a massive opening one day and it all started with a tiny piece of sand or a few drops of water.  We could be that insignificant piece of dirt or liquid that contributes to great change that just needs time to complete.

Meteor Crater, Winslow AZ

The Meteor Crater near Winslow Arizona is a stunning hole in the ground, period.  What a perfect tourist site!  The brochure says that four football games could be played in the center with two million people watching inside the crater. For perspective, this would be a great setting for almost any major US city to fit their entire population  inside the opening.  You could fit the ENTIRE population of Stockholm, or Beograd, or Hiroshima, or Manaus Brazil or Lyon France, or Leeds UK, or San Antonio Texas or every person from the state of New Mexico...inside this hole.   Caused by a chunk of mindless metal hurdling through space, it was sucked to the earth by the force of gravity ...  A tremendous impact for such a relatively small piece of rock (only 50 meters / 46 yards across that hit at somewhere between 28,000 to 46,000 miles per hour).  It wasn't that big in size but it had a powerful force pulling it into motion.  And it traveled a really long way for a really long time before it left it's huge mark on the world.

My take home lessons:
At all three sites, the force was provided from outside not the inside.  That force acted on an innate, mindless heap of metal or a mere drop of water and with enough time, the immovable was moved.

Like gravity sucking the meteor to earth or guiding the water down the channel of the river bottom, this Power, this Force, this Energy comes from outside.   

Then it hit me...
We don't need to create force -- it's already there.  These amazing, awe-inspiring indelible marks are left on the world because of simple, small things (like sand and water and ice) carving a brand new landscape.  These sites serve to remind me to acknowledge something bigger than ourselves... What an encouragement to think that with a divine force behind a person, ANYTHING is possible.