At the Rim

credit: markusni


I stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon a week ago. It’s funny because I’m not fond of heights but my stomach was steady and my nerves calm as I looked over the edge down to the Colorodo River over 5,000 feet below. Five thousand feet – that’s nearly a mile. The elevation change is so significant that the Canyon comprises five separate and distinct ecosystems from arid desert at the bottom to spruce-fir forest on the north rim. The elevation change is so significant that when Spanish explorer Garcia López de Cárdenas first set eyes on the Canyon in 1540 he estimated the Colorodo to be six feet across, merely a creek over which to hop. He had no reference for what he was seeing. I sympathize, hence the lack of vertigo. Nothing could be that immense, that spectacular. The expanse played tricks on my brain, making me feel like Tom Bombodil and tempting me to think, In four or five leaps I could be off this ledge and down to that stream for a drink!

My husband is wiser. When we approached the Canyon for our first look, Markku burst into shouts of “Halleluiah” (to the mortification of our daughters and the delight of a very friendly park ranger). With the same sense of awe, Markku touched every rock along the “Geological History” walk, setting his hand on stone that was nearly two billion years old. Every rock he touched predated the age of the dinosaurs.

That’s when the vertigo set in. Every rock, older than the dinosaurs. This rock, this rock I touched -- “Vishu granite” -- nearly half the age of the earth. It made me dizzy. Fall off the edge and you not only plummet nearly a mile, but 1.8 billion years as well.

Who are we that you are mindful of us, oh God?
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