It's the middle of finals week: I've administered two finals and still have one left to make, and I'm way behind on my marking, but I just really needed to get away somewhere quiet. So on my way home, instead of continuing on Glover Road as usual, I hooked a left turn and headed east down the highway.
With the windows down, sunroof open, and the countryside spread out in front of me, the calming effect of the open road enveloped me. The afternoon sunshine, veiled by thin clouds, was bright but not hot, lighting up the green fields around me. Highway 1 through this portion of the Fraser Valley is often flat and straight as an arrow, the divided lanes running like twin monorails through the fertile valley. On both sides, the valley is walled in with high mountains, still snowcapped in the spring.
There is something soothing to me about being on the Trans-Canada Highway, knowing that it stretches all the way across the continent. With no agenda, no destination, no deadline, as long as there's gas in the tank, I could just keep on driving as far as I wanted. No decisions to make -- I wouldn't even have to decide which exit to take, I could just go. The life of the lone sojourner, a "voice in the wilderness", simple and free. Is there a part of me that still yearns for that? Rich Mullins, in his song "Elijah", penned these words: "This life has shown me how we're mended / And how we're torn / How it's O.K. to be lonely / As long as you're free". He lived a full life but died single, in a tragic car accident in 1997.
Inevitably, though, I had to stop somewhere, and by the time the open road had blown away my stresses and I relaxed enough to take in my surroundings, I was past Chilliwack and nearing the famous Harrison Hot Springs. Finally I exited the highway, switching off the radio, slowing down, and meandering into Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park. From the parking lot, the falls themselves are just a short hike away, a pleasant stroll through mossy woods, with bark and pine needles soft beneath my feet.
Bridal Falls is a 60-metre misty cascade of white tumbling down round rock faces, spreading out wider as it drapes down the mountain. The approach to the falls is up a steep ascent, making it appear even more tall and grand to the eye. There is also an unexpected breeze: the trail leading to the falls, through the forest, is protected by surrounding foliage, so the air is quiet and still. But around the falls, wind sweeps down the mountainside and follows the water, bringing a cold, damp mist with it. It is here, beneath the falls, surrounded by the mist and the roar, that I sit for a spell, sheltered in the lee of a large cedar tree. I pray, but don't really get any answers, at least as far as I can tell. I seek clarity, a pathway ahead, guidance in making decisions. It is unsatisfying to return home without clear answers, but perhaps it's simply that the message God is speaking is not the kind of answer I'm attuned to.
Before I leave, I hike up a steep, gravelly rockfall, right up to the foot of the falls. I am inexorably drawn to the beauty and the power of the falls, the soft innocence of white mist juxtaposed with the ferocity of the torrent. With the majestic falls above me and the (slightly dizzying) steep slope below me, I am reminded of God's response to Job's questions. Job asked, "Why?", and cursed the day of his own birth; his wife was of little support; his closest friends were quick to assign blame to him. At first glance it seems as though God did not answer Job's questions: Job did not immediately get a detailed explanation of the court in heaven. But God's reply is so much more powerful -- He points to the stormclouds and the thunder, the Pleiades and the cold sky, the eagles and the mountain goats, the behemoth and the leviathan. Out of the majesty of creation, the Majestic Creator demands from Job:
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?Tell Me, if you have understanding.Who set its measurements? Since you know.Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk?Or who laid its cornerstone,When the morning stars sang together,And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
My heart is rolling now, and together with the young philosopher Elihu, my response to God's majesty is this:
At this also my heart trembles, and leaps from its place.Listen closely to the thunder of His voice,And the rumbling that goes out from His mouth.
God is in control; He is strong and mighty to save. I still don't know the pathway ahead -- I don't know which exit to take -- but I know this: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.