This famous quote, attributed (maybe not accurately) to baseball quipster Yogi Berra, is hilarious because it’s so dumb.
And yet, so smart.
It’s one thing to have your eyelids up so your retinas can passively receive visual stimulation (or whatever). But in order to observe, you have to actively watch.
Seems obvious, right? We all know this is true, but it’s tough to live as though we know it’s true – for me, at least. How many God- and man-made masterpieces do we zip past without fully (or even partially) appreciating them, because we’re so busy we forget to observe?
Way too many, I’m sure.
I had the privilege of slowing down and doing some actual watching last week, when my wife and I spent three nights in the Alberta Rockies to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary.
A snazzy hotel room in Canmore became our home for three nights, but we also spent a lot of time in nearby Banff National Park.
I was able to cross two items off my bucket list – we hiked the three-mile round trip to the upper falls in Johnston Canyon, and that same afternoon we rode the gondola two-thirds of the way up the Merlin Ridge at the Lake Louise ski hill. (I’ll admit these are pretty tame bucket list entries, but I’m working my way up, OK! [Easy, Gaston!])
While we’re being nitpicky, let’s admit that it’s a bit generous to use the words ‘hike’ and ‘Johnston Canyon’ in the same sentence. Most of the path is asphalt and handrailed, for one thing. And on a sunny Thursday in July, the trail is crowded like a shopping mall from one end to the other – so it doesn’t really feel like you’re getting away from it all and immersing yourself in nature.
The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Aside from the two spectacular waterfalls that serve as turnaround points, Johnston Creek is in rapids or cascade mode every 50 feet. Then, turn your gaze upwards by a mere few degrees, and you’re face-to-face with jagged, cragged cliffs that change the way you look at the power of water.
The creek and the cliffs – both independently and as a package deal – gave me Goosebumps a dozen times that day, as I observed them for a moment and realized, ‘God did that.’
He didn’t have to sculpt this awe-inspiring scene. He could easily have come up with a humdrum view that accomplished all of the same ecosystemic purposes – and one that took a lot less time to create. But He didn’t.
Our God is a creative God. A patient God. A God who delights in creating beautiful things.
For His own joy.
For our joy.
And just for Karen and me – on that day, at least.
His fingerprints were equally unmistakable in the aforementioned throng of humanity that cluttered the Johnston Canyon paths that day:
- Babies snoozing in strollers.
- Twentysomethings with earbuds in their ears – apparently the rumbling symphony of thousands of gallons of water rushing over jagged rocks isn’t interesting enough!
- Seventysomethings gritting their teeth with determination as they huffed and puffed on their walking sticks on the way back from the upper falls (I hope I’m in their hiking boots in 30-odd years!)
- A few unfortunate dog owners who didn’t anticipate such crowds and were forced to carry Bowzer and Trixie through the crowded parts (meaning all) of the trail.
Being unable to walk at our usual pace due to the crowds, we were able to observe a lot of them. I was astounded once again by the diversity of the people made in God’s image – so many shapes and sizes and ages and skin colors. So many individuals, all fully known and fully loved by a God who’s able to focus on the big picture and microscopic details, at the same time.
I saw a lot of love, a lot of passion and a lot of joy and was reminded once again that …
God did that.
Perhaps my favorite part of visiting the mountains, though, is how plainly the Rockies illustrate the undeterrable persistence of life.
Pathetic-looking spruce trees cling to a nearly vertical cliff-face in Johnston Canyon, with what appears to be no more than a tablespoon of soil in which to take root. The Plant Kingdom really ought to yield those few square inches to the Mineral Kingdom, shouldn’t it? I mean, what kind of life is that for a tree?
Good enough for the tree, apparently. Who am I to disagree?
Look closely at some of the Rockies and you’ll see something similar. Far above the tree line you might see a small speck of green – a clump of trees apparently thriving hundreds of metres higher any of their brothers. How did the seeds even get there?
Whose idea was that, again?
God did that.
Lake Louise also provided a potent encounter with epiphany. We spent 40 minutes or so at the shore of this gorgeous, icy and world famous body of water. It’s tough not to be impressed by the massive Chateau Lake Louise hotel. This edifice is a testament to the ingenuity of man, and to what we can accomplish when we set our mind to it.
Man did that.
But at the top of the Lake Louise Gondola, we got a sense of how big and impressive the chateau really isn’t. This ginormous building – 10 storeys tall and about taking up around a city block’s worth of real estate – is barely visible from 10-odd kilometres away. But the lake is – and the immense and awesome glaciers that feed it are big as life.
In comparison to God’s contribution to the vista, both the ‘beauty’ and the ‘might’ of the chateau seem laughable. Man barely has a toenailhold on this immense wilderness – a flick of God’s fingernail against the glacier could reduce the überinn to nothing but a statistic.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been more acutely aware of the fact that humanity exists on this planet entirely at the whim of its Owner and Creator. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a rush of awe, gratitude and fear(!) all at the same time.
God did that.
Speaking of gratitude, the chance to enjoy all these spectacular experiences with my beautiful wife underscored once again how unfortunate every other man in the universe is, because I get to be married to the greatest woman there is.
God did that.
‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’ – Genesis 1:31a
Peace be with you.