by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters, February 2014


If you have ever been there then you already know that Yellowstone National Park is one of the most beautiful places in this country. Its mountains are full and majestic. Its meadows are lush and dotted with deer and bison. The entire park lives with the popping sounds of mud pots, hot springs, and geysers, like the famous Old Faithful. For a time, the entire park was thought to have been the product of a long extinct volcano, the evidence was everywhere, and yet some of the tell tale signs of volcanic activity were missing.

In A Short History of Everything, Bill Bryson chronicles the dangerous beauty found in Yellowstone and of a mystery at the heart of the park. Bryson tells the story of how Bob Christiansen, of the USGS Survey, began to search for the source of volcanic activity, the crater that would mark the location of the initial blast. Discovering the crater was somewhat of an accident. Around the same time, NASA administrators had completed a series of high altitude photographs of Yellowstone and some nice official sent copies to park authorities thinking that they might be just right for the lobby or visitors center. Christiansen immediately recognized why he failed to see the crater. He was in it. As the high altitude photos revealed, the crater covered 2.2 million acres. The impact of volcanic eruption was greater in scope than anyone could consider or imagine at the time. It was, as Bryson notes, “too huge to be perceived from anywhere at ground level.” It could only be perceived by a change in altitude.

The season of Epiphany continues to call us to a shift in perspective and promises to change our previously held assumptions about our life and the world. We are invited to wonder about God and creation, about life and our place in it. We are invited to look at the world from a higher perspective, so that we may see the impact of God’s love that stretches beyond the boundaries of our limited sight. Climb onto a pew and wonder at the impact of God’s love for the world. Like Christiansen, you might find that there is a power at work in the world that is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”