Some of my family got to spend last weekend in Yosemite. In spite of the lack of water in the falls, it is still an absolutely magnificent part of the planet. Everytime I come around the last bend approaching the valley, drive through the tunnel, and then see Yosemite Valley, my heart leaps. The view is overwhelming. There are no words.
John Muir in his book The Yosemite (1912) wrote: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” I get what Muir is saying. Along with the Psalmist, looking at nature, moons and stars, we cry out: O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! (Psalm 8).
Jesus went into the wilderness throughout his ministry. In the wilderness he received his call. There he was baptized and tempted. He returned to the wilderness for recalibration–to remember who he was. He retreated into the wilderness when he needed rest and renewal, when he was about to make the decision about who would be his closest disciples, when he was on the road to the cross.
Wilderness can be a stark place. It can be a dangerous place. But it is also the place we can go, maybe must go, to recalibrate our lives, for renewal, and for rest. We need bread. We also need beauty.
Beauty is found in Yosemite, but it is found many other places as well. Find wilderness for healing and strength, and for meeting the Lord.