Mountains abound here. Mountains made of lava, of ash, and block faults. Mountains are the first thing you can see as you approach the park. They are everywhere. Some are covered in snow. They come in many sizes and colors: gray or pink or green (tree or grass covered). They are awesome to behold. They draw our eyes upward.
In ancient times mountains were considered the sacred whelm of God. One encountered the Holy and drew closer to God, as one ascended the mountain. There are many scripture references to mountains. One is Micah 4:1-2 which says: In the days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. People shall stream to it, and many nations shall come away and say, “Come let us go up on the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
We can substitute YNP for Jerusalem . When one is backed up on the Grand Loop Road because someone 30 cars up has seen a bear or a bison, one knows that people are streaming to our national parks to cure what ails them. More and more people are heading to our national parks. We are all suffering from a bit of nature deprivation these days. I believe we are seeking healing for our souls as we seek out nature. I think many do not realize that they are looking for God, the Creator, as seen in the Creation.
Maybe the visitors are not seeking God as I am – maybe they are nature pilgrims rather than Divine pilgrims but they are pilgrims none the same; seeking to awaken to the presence of the Holy. Maybe they seek a daily beautiful vista. Maybe they seek the closeness of nature. Maybe they seek the quiet of the winter months when few people venture here. But underneath it all – known or unbeknownst to them they seek the one who created such beauty.
We have been struck by the quantity of people we have seen and noticed that many nations are represented among the visitors here to YNP. People are coming here to learn things from nature and from the park rangers and displays and literature about our natural world and in so doing – whether they realize it or not – they are learning the ways of God as they learn to observe nature. In nature you have to live in the moment. As they are learning the many wonders and miracles that occur within nature; they are learning the vastness and variety of nature (and therefore of God) – from 2500 pound bison to microscopic sulfur loving bacteria. And now as they learn all these things about the Earth they are learning how to take care of the Earth and when we do that we are walking in the path of God who created the Earth, loves it, and cares for it.
It is interesting to see where the employees are from. Each employee name tag lists there first name and then where they are from. Many come here to visit and end up finding a job and staying here. That speaks to me of the deep attraction the nature and beauty of YNP that calls people not just for a time of vacation, but for a whole season of their lives as they move here to keep on enjoying the beauty of the mountains.
I know people are learning and growing as they encounter these beautiful surroundings. There are many bookmarks that are found in the stores that say things like: Things I learned from the Lake – or things I learned from the mountain – or things I learned from the wolf….
And so now many go up on the mountain of the Lord to learn and walk in the Creator’s paths….