Wonder can be found in all God’s creation - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Wonder can be found in all God’s creation

August 19th, 2018 development
Wonder can be found in all God’s creation

By Lynne Hartke, Contributor


My calf muscles complained at the continual ascent through a forest of pine, spruce, and aspen trees as my lungs searched for oxygen in the high elevation. A dark-eyed junco – a gray bird with a rust-colored patch on its back – sought relief under a flowering blue lupine from the light drizzle that fell from the scattered clouds I glimpsed through the trees’ canopy.

“I love the smell of rain,” my husband, Kevin, said. “And pine.”

I agreed as I debated whether I should get out the raincoat from the bottom of my pack. “It’s hard to believe it is 40 degrees hotter in Phoenix.”

The rain stopped as quickly as it had begun as we continued our way up the slopes, above our starting point from Lockett Meadow, a campground located 22 miles northeast of Flagstaff.

After hiking 1.5 miles, we came to the watershed cabins, a group of three green buildings that marked the site of the main water pipeline in the area. A sign stated the untreated spring water was not available for drinking.

We scrambled up a rough, rock-strewn service road to our destination at the heart of an ancient volcano – the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks.

Although prime wildflower season had passed, a few purple asters, red penstemon, and yellow sneezeweed dotted the basin. Surrounded by towering mountains, we sat on an old rotted log and munched on apples and granola bars. We could see evidence of avalanche swaths on the talus slopes, a reminder of the snow that often blankets the peaks.

We sat in the stillness of the extinct caldera, absorbing the silence.

Habakkuk 2:20 (NLT) states, “The LORD is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.” We all need places to connect with God. To fill the empty spots in our souls. To be left without words and discover wonder.

Some of those places do not have four walls. Sometimes wonder is found at over 9,000 feet while sucking in oxygen and breathing in pine-scented air.

We headed back down the way we came, down the slopes through an extensive stand of aspen trees – mottled white trunks as far as our eyes could see.

“Listen,” I said, stopping a few feet in front of Kevin. “Hear the leaves.” Towering above us, the aspens swayed, rustling the call of the wilderness.

“This place will be beautiful in autumn.”

“We will have to come back.”

We chatted about fall schedules, family commitments, work responsibilities and the difficulty it would be to find the time. Grasping wonder can be a challenging task.

“Let’s look at calendars when we get home.”

As if in agreement, the sunlight broke through the trees, turning the trunks a brilliant white. Shadows danced on the carpet of green grass on the forest floor.

“Go down the next switchback so I can take your picture,” Kevin requested.

I jogged ahead and lifted my face.

“Wait for the clouds to pass.”

Sweat dripped to my waistline. My hair stood in all directions, but I smiled, smiled wide for the camera, because sometimes wonder is found at over 9,000 feet and sometimes wonder is found in the minute, in Heaven touching Earth where you stand.

Lynne Hartke is the author of Under a Desert Sky and the wife of pastor and Chandler City Councilmember Kevin Hartke. She blogs at lynnehartke.com.