Years ago, I spent a whole summer high in the Yosemite back country, eight miles from the nearest road, at a place called Sunrise High Sierra Camp. Watching these crazy wildfires threaten that place breaks my heart. Prayers for you brave firefighters!
Cloud’s Rest. Yosemite. Circa 1999.
Back then, when I wasn’t working as an employee of the park, I played frisbee golf with my co-workers, using ancient Sequoia trees for holes. We ran everywhere, swam in sapphire glacial lakes and camped out at night. Flanked by mountains in every direction, we climbed them in the dark, just to watch the stars come out and the moon rise over them.
View from Sunrise High Sierra Camp.
But then the earth tilted. The meadow grass gave way and what leaves there were, turned red and fell, and we knew we couldn’t stay.
Driving home along the Merced River, high above the Sacramento Valley, I saw the smog and bustle below and sighed. Life in the manifest presence of God, unspoiled by the tyranny of civilization, was over.
I wasn’t thinking in those terms at the time though, because I was mostly ignoring God. I just had grief I couldn’t explain.
I didn’t know I was leaving Eden.
For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification]. Romans 1:20 AMP
Upper Cathedral Lake.
Coming back from Zambia has been like that.
When you throw followers of Jesus into a foreign country and ask them to do difficult things, they cling to Jesus like a needy kid clutching his father’s leg. In Zambia, my regular boundaries between sacred and secular disappeared. We hugged, wept, sang, laughed and prayed like our lives depended on it – every day.
Then we came home, to the smog.
Here, in our workaday lives, our radical dependence fades and we forget how sweet the unbroken presence of God is. Here, naked vulnerability before God is a little too “out there” “too wacky” for an increasingly post-Christian culture.
So we cover it up and grieve.
That’s why Christians love conferences. Thousands of people worshiping God, changes the environment in a football stadium so thoroughly, you never want to leave. It’s a reprieve from the daily catastrophe of Syria and climate change and incessant global poverty. It feels like hope.
And that’s why I’m starting Love Dinner.
I want to remember that God is the same in Texas, in Zambia and Yosemite. He invites us to erase the boundaries between sacred and secular and recognize it’s all His. But I think that takes practice, especially for those of us who grew up in secular America.
At Love Dinner, eight of us will create a mini-kingdom, practicing God presence so we can live as beacons in the smog, just like Jesus said to, and invite others to light up as well.
Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” – Jesus. John 12:36
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