December 19, 2011

Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature. Hebrews 1:3

I was paging through The New York Times Magazine’s winter travel issue, when I came across a photo spread with the model Heidi Mount, which was shot in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.

I’d never heard of Ms. Mount, but the accompanying text clued me in a bit as to why the Utah locations were used. First, she grew up in a suburb of Salt Lake City, four and a half hours away from the parks, and every spring break her family would travel there or to nearby Bryce Canyon. Her favorite arch, in case you’d care to know, is Delicate according to the article (“it’s the classic, it’s on the [state] license plate”).

Second, Ms. Mount was modeling “fall’s lumberjack chic” for the magazine. I guess the editors equated parks with lumberjacks. I would have thought woods, not rocks…

It’s not the first time the Times and I disagree. The paper’s idea of “chic” typically is not even remotely close to mine, and some of the photos are, as usual, weird.

But there is one funny one, with Ms. Mount positioned in such a way that the arrow for Hole N” the Rock, near Canyonlands, appears to be pointed at her open mouth.

The text was written by Sally Singer, who was inspired to visit the Moab area by reading Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, an account of his stint as a ranger in Arches. Ms. Singer talks about sleeping in tents with an “outdoorsy” friend, and hiking through Arches’ Fiery Furnace (looks thrilling!) and Canyonlands’ sandstone spires, called Needles.

Some of the phrases Ms. Singer uses to describe what she saw are “crazily beautiful friezes,” “surreal statuary” and “jaw-dropping rocks,” making her time there one of “unreal privilege and glamour.”

I don’t know if she saw God in her visit; I know I do in the photos. It’s easy for me to be awestruck in the face of so much natural beauty.

Sometimes, though, I find it harder in my everyday life, and definitely harder around this time of year, bombarded with the busyness of shopping for gifts, baking cookies and sending cards. The Christmas rush constantly threatens to keep me away from meditating on the simple truth behind all the trappings.

Perhaps you find the same thing happening to you. If so, please take a moment to follow this link to something written by my friend Susan, inspired by the Christmas carol, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” She says it much more beautifully than I ever could.

I pray that this Christmas, you and I will not only see and hear, but KNOW the radiance of God’s glory and the representation of His merciful, gracious and loving nature (Psalm 86:15), as embodied by the Baby whose birth we celebrate.


  1. Susan says:

    Penny – Thanks for the great post and for the shout-out!! Love you ;D
    I pray you have a blessed Christmas and see you in the new year!

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