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Saturday, June 13, 2015

My "Grand" Movie

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." -Hebrews 13:2

There's such a beauty in going places alone. For me, it's the heightened awareness of the people around me. People are fascinating and quirky and beautiful. Everyone has lives full of both great things and sucky things. But they all have their stories. And if you look closely, you can have your own front row "movie" every day.

Today, while traipsing through five miles of the Grand Canyon upper rim alone with my dog, here were the characters I was lucky enough to have enter my movie reel:

The foreign couple speaking their native tongue in quick words that felt giggly and devious; then I noticed they were trying to get a photo of the boyfriend peeing over the edge of the Grand Canyon, but tourists kept rounding the corner every time they got set, which resulted in the boyfriend repeatedly doing a frantic "zip up" that left the girlfriend doubled over in fits of laughter.

The old lady in the wheelchair who was so excited to tell me that they couldn't figure out why she couldn't walk after her operation, but she wasn't going to let it ruin her vacation. Her daughter was riding a mule for the first time because her granddaughter, who was a rodeo star, couldn't go alone on the mule ride down the canyon since she was only 12.

The homeless man with the dog who played with my dog for 20 minutes, who used to live in L.A. but bought a van, gave up work, and is now secretly sleeping near one of the Grand Canyon's campsites. Every day, he walks to the upper rim to enjoy the free nature talks and sunset walks.

The lovebirds making out on the bench who have been married for 52 years and were on a road trip from Florida. Florida?! My butt would be sore after Memphis.

The man from Connecticut who was bringing his daughter's car across country for her so she could have it in college. Dad of the Year Award.

Caitlynn, who asked to pet my dog, then asked my name. When I told her, she said, "Oh, that's great! I'll never forget you. That's my sister's name." Sure enough, three hours later, someone yelled "Heather!" across the parking lot, and I looked up to see Caitlynn waving both hands wildly like we were old friends, and she had missed me so much through the years.

Today was a grand movie.

But today actually started a long time ago.

Back at summer camp when I was in junior high or high school (the memories merge), there was a campfire talk. The guy spoke of something profound and life changing, I'm sure, but all I remember is one phrase: "That's a huge hole." He was speaking of his visit to the Grand Canyon, and no doubt it was some extended metaphor to our walk with Jesus or our plight through the scary halls of middle school, but all I remember was the humor of his understatement as he recalled staring into the vastness of the canyon and saying, "That's a huge hole."

I remember laughing when he said those words. It's funny what the brain holds onto. Maybe it was because the speaker wasn't easily impressed, and the size of this "hole" made him stagger. Maybe it was just because he was a funny guy, and he made me laugh. Why do we remember what we do?

Years later, I don't recall the point of that talk, whether it moved me to improve my morality or to square my shoulders back and walk with a new "hell yeah" confidence, but I do recall his four words: That's a huge hole.

Since then, and primarily because of that campfire moment, I have wanted to visit this huge hole. Today, en route to visit my parents in Colorado, I finally went.

I walked to the edge and looked down. There it was. I looked out. There it was. I looked to both sides of me. There it was. And like I did at campfire years ago, I laughed, only not from the humor but from the truth. I found myself saying out loud, "That's a huge hole."

I mean, what else can you say? There aren't weighty enough words to encapsulate what it truly is. Epic chasm? Gargantuan gorge? Colossal cleft? Those words minimize the reality of what your eyes can't even take in fully. It's just this huge... hole.

I'm struck by why those four words stayed. But they did. They played a part in me getting here today. They played a part in my "movie watching": the dad driving his daughter's car 3000 miles to her because he loves her, the lady in the wheelchair rolling around the Grand Canyon because she loves to get out and live, the homeless man who loves a good sunset, my instant old friend Caitlynn who loves all Heathers, and foreigners in the midst of their peeing shenanigans who love a good memory.

I'm reminded of so much today.
I am small.
That's ok.
People are beautiful.
That's a huge hole.