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Summer Road Trip

I used to collect beanie babies. In fact, as my dad recently discovered, I have three entire tubs of them. But one particular memory of that collection stands out. My dad, my brother and I were making a trip from our home in Olympia, WA to the Oregon Coast for the weekend (I don’t remember why my mom wasn’t with us), a trip that should take us just under three hours. But, at the time, McDonalds had the mini beanie babies in their Happy Meals. And both my brother and I wanted the full collection. And so, my dad let us stop at every McDonalds along the way until we each completed our collection. 

Acadia National Park, from National Park Services

Our road trip might have been rather short, but it was no less memorable. While today plane travel has become more common, I’m guessing most of us have at least one road trip story, and some probably have many.


Well, this summer in worship, we’re taking a road trip! We’ll be journeying to fourteen different National Parks, journeying from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, visiting canyons and mountains, deserts and rainforest, and just about everything in between.


While we will only visit fourteen, there are 63 National Parks spread across the United States. Moon’s USA National Parks guide says, “Their beauty is in their wildness. Cactus deserts bloom against the odds, and rugged mountains trap snow to feed rivers tumbling to oceans, where seascapes change with each tide. Wolves, grizzly bears, orcas, and eagles still rule the animal kingdom…the sights can only be described in superlatives: North America’s highest peak, tallest waterfall, deepest lake, lowest elevation, biggest trees, and the world’s first national park.”


There’s a reason these places have been designated as National Parks, reasons why generations before us have protected and preserved these lands.


Authors, Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer, say this, “For as long as humans can remember, we have looked at the wondrous beauty of the world and sought to understand our place under the stars. In the tallest peaks of the mountains we see transcendence, a thin place between ourselves and the heavens. Verdant valleys remind us of the abundance the earth provides. Desert landscapes can leave us alone with our thoughts, perhaps to ponder our lives and to have gratitude for the supplies we need to sustain us in an otherwise unforgiving place. Roaring oceans remind us of the untamed power of the natural world and forces that can be mitigated but never fully controlled. Soaring birds and quick-footed deer give us over to dreams about what it would be like to move as they do, gliding on the wind’s whispers or nimbly navigating rough terrain. We see beauty in these places and events; sometimes we see, or at least feel, something else our eye cannot fully see nor our mind fully understand.”


Moments like these are holy moments. We often think of them as “thin places,” those moments or places where we feel connected to God. And for many of us, myself included, those moments have happened in the National Parks.


So, as we hit the road this summer, I hope you will be taken back to your own thin place moments, or be encouraged to create new moments, or simply be transported to the wonder and beauty of our National Parks.


We begin 2,241 miles away in Maine, at Acadia National Park, which “extends its reach here and there, like an octopus, sprawling over half of Mount Desert Island. The first national park east of the Mississippi River and the only national park in the northeastern United States, it was created from donated parcels – a big chunk here, a tiny piece there – and slowly fused into its present-day shape.” It is also where, from the highest vantage point along the Northeastern Seaboard, you can see the start of each day. From early October to early March, Acadia is the first place in the continental United States to greet the sun, marking the beginning of each new day.


Let’s hit the road! You won’t want to miss this Summer Road Trip!


Grace and peace,


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