the edge of the canyon

half-running, half-jumping, downhill, squeezing between rocks and weaving through tourists and trees. i was out of breath when i got to the edge. as i looked out, more of my breaths were stolen by smiles and spontaneous prayer.

a few yards to my left, a mother and teenage daughter were taking selfies. about fifty yards behind me, hundreds of people were walking behind the guardrail. my ears filled with their many languages and distant shouts, drumming echoes into the rocks.

i’m glad that God thought the grand canyon was a good idea.

i made my way to the edge. around me, several people were standing or sitting on the rocks. some were smiling, some were crying, all were alone. each person absorbing the sweet awe of the canyon in their own way. i took a deep breath. the air was rich with hope.

a few feet away from me, a guy about my age was laughing, blowing spirals of cigarette smoke into the chasm. we talked for a few minutes about traveling and faith, letting our legs swing above the canyon.

i felt so found by God. i had a heightened awareness of myself as a person. every part of me felt interconnected and whole.

humans have this dangerous tendency to compartmentalize ourselves. our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components don’t exist independently of each other. acknowledging that has been key for me in learning how to love and take care of myself. i am a whole person, and no part of who i am is a mistake.

during the rest of my time at the canyon, i felt beautifully small. i was surrounded by thousands of people and a breathtaking piece of land. at night, my best friend and i slept in our tiny corner of a village of tents. we cooked eggs and drank coffee under the glow of arizona stars. everything felt like a prayer.

in the 48 hours i spent at the grand canyon, i learned that smallness doesn’t equal insignificance. i felt the presence of God in a gentle and strong way. i felt incredibly valuable and grateful for the thousands of strangers around me. i was a small woman in the grand canyon, but the way i live my life is significant, because the very fact that i exist means that i matter.

today i’m sitting in a downtown birmingham coffee shop, remembering the march days i spent at the grand canyon. i easily get lost in the details of life and lose focus of the impact that my decisions can have. but i’m just as much of a whole and valuable person today as i was at the grand canyon. i’m choosing to believe truth. significance and purpose and the presence of God are still in me. most of my daydreams lately have taken me back to the edge of the canyon, because i need to remember that there is so much richness in this life, and we are image bearers of the Father. there's beauty in the smallness and there's such a purpose to this life. let's live well.