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A Flock of Angels Disguised as Seagulls

Last Wednesday eleven of us went on the first Adventure Club Hike of the year. We went to the foot of the Owyhee Range and walked at least part of the China Ditch trail, an old route used long ago by Chinese immigrants to transport water. This was our first hike in quite a while and I have to admit, I had forgotten how really good it is to hike with our young people.

The older kids come expecting to have fun and enjoy each other's company. They know we will take time to climb the rocks, get wet if there is water to be had, and find wonderful surprises such as the horny toad we got to see along with countless lizards and Mormon crickets. But the best part for me is watching the wonder on the faces of young people who are seeing things for the first time.

It's watching people get brave enough to climb on the rocks and jump off, to get their feet wet in the river, to feel that deep stirring of the greatness of the world around us as you look for miles. On this particular morning we were treated to a flock of seagulls that suddenly appeared just above our heads, dipping and wheeling as they flew in formation before they turned and headed up the canyon and their lunch of crickets.

It was as if we had unexpectedly startled a sky full of angels--at least that is what the look on the child's face next to me proclaimed. The whole morning was filled with the wonder of the world and good companionship and so it was filled with the wonder of God. It is that same wonder that Jesus speaks about in the parables. We plant, we tend, we water, but why the earth gives growth and fruit, nobody knows. It's Mystery, the power of the Other.

I realize, as I think about Father's Day, that so much of my appreciation and deep connection to the wonders of the earth, was inspired by my father. I remember lying in the dry grass, looking down over the edge of a mountain ridge into the park, (a big open meadow in the mountains), on the other side, at the herd of elk grazing in the evening light that made the quaking aspens behind them glow. We watched and watched. "Aren't they beautiful," I remember he whispered. "This is when you know for sure there is a Creator God."

The elk and the scene were indeed a magnificent site, but the humble wonder in my father's voice was what is etched in my soul. We had hiked all the way up the mountain because, I thought we were hunting, but instead we laid in the grass, waiting and watching, wrapped in the wonder of God. I finally got brave enough to ask, "Are we going to shoot an elk?" "Heavens no," he replied. It's much too late in the day."

I knew this wasn't the truth and I began to understand that what we had really come to do, if the Spirit made a way, was to touch the face of Mystery, revealed in the magic and majesty and wonder of God's good creation. He invited me, that day, into the cathedral of his faith and introduced me to the God of all creation who heals and blesses and challenges us. With this experience and so many others, he put me in touch with Mystery. The wonder and love of God revealed through creation, like a flock of angels disguised as seagulls, and I am eternally grateful.

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Jun 17
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