"Let the fire fall!" There is a Christian song by the same name,
and a couple of us wondered if it was inspired by the fire fall that
used to take place in Yosemite National Park. Although we didn't see
the fire fall live and in person, we watched it on film and it was a
spectacular sight! It truly appeared to be a waterfall on fire. People
used to come together in community from all over the world just to
watch the fire fall. Although I can't remember when it started, or the
exact reason it started, it stopped in 1968 due to increased crime,
overpopulation, and the realization of the unnatural replacing the
natural as the fire fall was man-made.
The fire fall, its
attraction and the realization of what it is, is a good analogy for why
so many of us felt drawn to CM Yosemite. Catholic Match is a blessing
to many of us for so much more than simply the possibility of meeting
that "special someone". It's an online community where we gather
together to relate to each other and support one another as Catholic
singles–to learn from each other, to challenge and grow in faith, and
learn new ways of applying the Faith in the "real world". The fact that
the phrase "real world" is in quotation marks is key. Our online
community is badly needed by many of us who don't have a community of
Catholic singles where we are, and God did create us to be in community.
Yet, the Internet cannot replace the human touch, of seeing the Son in
a smile just when you need Him most, of giving your friend a certain
look that throws him into hysterical laughter and no one understands
the joke but you two. The unnatural cannot replace the natural, and this
is the gift of CM Yosemite.
Standing at the top of Glacier
Point, awestruck at the vastness, complex beauty, and artistry of the
mountainous rocks raised our minds, hearts, and souls to God. How could
it not? The only word that came to someone's mind was "unfathomable",
when gazing out over these cathedral walls with their crevices and
natural carvings, God's version of stained glass windows. See, when one
glances with the natural eye, one sees the beauty, genius, and majesty
of God or nature, but doesn't see the "picture". When one gazes with
the spiritual eye, the "picture" is seen clearly and one wonders, "Why
didn't I notice this before? It is so obvious!" As human beings, we are
both physical and spiritual integrated into one. God invites us to
participate fully in our search for the holy.
Not everyone chose
to hike down Glacier Point, but for those of us who did, the diversity
of hiking experiences, abilities, and personalities served to create a
truly community-building experience. Hiking in the midst of God's
cathedral may remind one that we are a pilgrim Church and no one walks
this journey alone. When one loses her breath and needs to rest, others
rest with her. Just as the angels ministered to Jesus in the garden of
Gethsemane when it seemed He couldn't go on, people ministered to each
other when someone needed to stop and worried that they couldn't go on.
Somehow, through the strength, support, and laughter of others
traveling with us, we all somehow found the energy and stamina to
continue down the mountain.
Living in the desert, I often go
outside at night just to gaze into the sky. It seems that every star
God has made is visible in the desert sky. Yet, not once, have I ever
seen the moon the way it appeared in Yosemite. In Christian symbolism,
the sun is a symbol of Jesus because He is the Light of the world. The
moon is a symbol of Mary, who reflects the Light of the Son. In
Yosemite, a certain mystical atmosphere seemed to be created through
the appearance of the moon. Maybe it was the clarity of vision through
the absence of smog and artificial light, but the moon, surrounded in
rings of color, seemed to glow extraordinarily bright that weekend.
If Yosemite is God's cathedral, it makes sense, then, that Mother Mary,
too, was present there offering her Son's Light in the darkness.
anyone who has been to Yosemite and has been given a map of the place,
s/he knows how useless this map is. It doesn't give names of
streets–and what's the point of having a map if all the detour signs
in the opposite direction of where the map says to go? Yet, this, too
serves as a valuable spiritual lesson. To paraphrase G.K. Chesteron,
"All that glitters isn't gold and all who wander aren't
always lost." Sometimes, many times, we thought we were lost, but were
going in the right direction all along. The spiritual journey is the
same way. We are going along God's highway when we run into unfamiliar
wilderness. Because we don't understand, we get nervous, lose trust in
the highway, assume we're lost, and make a u-turn. That's when we
notice a detour sign that points us back in the direction in which we
were going. I've come to think of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a
detour sign always pointing in the direction in which we are to go.
is my conviction that all of us who went to Yosemite were called there
by the Holy Spirit for reasons we may never know. My prayer, then, is
that we continue following the detour signs God places in our path,
reaching out to one another during moments we're stuck on the mountain,
and looking out into the world through the eyes of the Father and
seeing that it is good. Yes, indeed, it is very good.
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