Finding God: Editor finds faith in Yellowstone


We had spent close to one week in the world’s first national park.
This past summer, a group of students embarked on a GIFT course to Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone was capturing our hearts each day with the breathtaking views, animal sightings and mountainous hikes.
One Monday morning, we decided to head up Elephant Back Trail, a four-mile round trip that would lead to a beautiful overlook of Yellowstone Lake and the mountains.
It was not going to be an easy trek, especially since there were multiple angry elk and bear spottings.
Splitting into groups of three, we ascended the serpiginous trail that was full of switchbacks and obsidian cliffs.
Our radios in hand, we took multiple water breaks and ensured that we were continuing to talk to ward off the grizzly bears.
Eventually, we began to notice the clearing of the trees around us and we became hopeful that we were almost to the summit.
Sure enough, within the next five minutes, we had reached the sandy outlook. And it lived up to its reputation.
As members of the group sat along the wooden planks, others posed in front of the lake, smiling and hugging friends.
After all three groups had arrived, Dr. Steve Ropski began to explain the sentimental meaning he has for the spot.
Throughout his many trips to Yellowstone with Gannon biology classes, he has welcomed staff and faculty to join.
One trip, he brought along his dear friend, a man of great faith.
Upon this very hike, they reached the summit and he began to tell the students how this was God’s cathedral.
The marble was replaced with dirt. The ornate altar was instead one of an amazing vista. The lodgepole pines drew you into their sanctuary, providing you with a deeper solace than any pew ever could.
And on that spot, he held an impromptu Mass.
After vulnerably sharing his take on how this was God’s cathedral, I sat and thought of what the spot would become for me.
It took hard work and quite a journey to reach the summit, just as one’s faith journey does.
Along the way, we had to stop and encourage each other, showing the true nature of being a part of one body in Christ.
And when you reach the top, you can truly feel the spiritual presence of something that transcends human words.
The picture-taking was put on hold for a moment as we reflected on our journey up there.
I could not help but feel that God was saying that this was what I had been waiting for. A spiritual discovery in such a wild and unforgiving land.
An example of how hard and tough life can be, yet unmistakenly beautiful. This trip exposed this reality for many of us.
Later on in the day, we did two more hikes, my heart being filled even more as I continued to explore the vast nature of God’s work.
To find God, you do not need an elaborate cathedral of wealth and prosperity. In fact, I feel that God has fashioned the most beautiful cathedral in the rugged beauty of nature.
To be one with nature is to be one with God.
From the towering mountains to the swaying meadows to barren, dry deserts, it can be discovered.
He calls for us to come find him and immerse ourselves in his cathedral.
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