On this hot New Orleans Tuesday, I am thinking of a hot Wednesday in the Grand Canyon almost two weeks ago. It was the second day of our backpacking trip, the day we packed from the bottom by the confluence of Bright Angel Creek and the Colorado River to a campsite 7 miles upstream. Along the way, we scrambled off trail to a magical place called Ribbon Falls, which I describe as Hawaii meets the Grand Canyon. It’s a place of waterfalls, riparian animal life, ferns, bright flowers, cool breezes – less than half a mile off of a very hot trail. We spent 4 hours there soaking in the beauty.
While we were there, we met and befriended a young man named CJ. (Pictured above, left to right: nephew Jeremy, Ann, sister-in-law Lynn, CJ, me.) CJ has cystic fibrosis. He has struggled with lung infections for years. He recently decided that he wanted to bring attention to cystic fibrosis by hiking the Arizona Trail. This trail starts at the US-Mexico border and continues to the border between Arizona and Utah. The miles through the Grand Canyon have some of the biggest elevation change.
CJ is from Oregon, land of big trees and cool temperatures. He decided to walk the AZ Trail because it would challenge his abilities and comfort zone. He wanted to be a sign of hope to people who have just been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. He also hopes to raise money for more research and treatment for people who struggle with CF. He is walking by himself.
He inspired all of us. We were moved by his commitment to making a difference. We were inspired by his courage. We were delighted by his spirit of adventure. We were saddened to learn of the struggles he has lived with for years.
It got us to thinking about what we do to get outside our own comfort zones. We reflected on what we were willing to take on in hopes of making a difference in the lives of others.
And because it is how I roll, it made me think about church. What are you – what am I – willing to do to give people hope? This does not seem like a hopeful time in our world, and yet followers of Christ are given abundant reason for hope for ourselves and others. Romans 15:13 reads, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
May we do something audacious to share that hope with others!
Grace and peace,