The Infinitesimal Grand Canyon

The phrase ‘Grand Canyon moment’ is often used to refer to the experience of seeing a breath taking natural vista and sensing, in that vision, God’s presence.  The experience is in large part (pun intended) about scope – the humbling vastness of  great mountains and endless oceans, things of unimaginable size that somehow exist in our world.  In their vastness we feel small, yet connected, filled with awe but at the very same time knowing that we are intricately intertwined with God’s universe.

But God is also in the details.  The human body with its thousands of working parts and the human brain and its 100 trillion synapses.  The geometric shape of a snowflake.  The precise chemistry required to make life possible.  These things are small, many of them invisible.  But in their own way they are no less breath taking than the Alps, or the Atlantic in a storm, or the great chasm at the heart of the Grand Canyon.

When Elijah the prophet seeks God during a moment of crisis in I Kings 19 he experiences a series of powerful events.  First a a thunderous wind comes, so strong it splits mountains and shatters rock.  Then an earthquake shakes the very ground Elijah is standing on.  Finally, a consuming fire.  In each case the Bible tells us that God was not there.  But  then Elijah sensed God’s presence in a soft, almost indistinguishable sound – the ‘still, small, voice.’

We often say that some people are ‘big picture,’ while others are detail oriented.  Evidently, God is both.IMG_3215 2

Author: Steve Schwartz

Husband, father of three, Deadhead, and rabbi. I am now in my 22nd year of serving a large congregation in the Baltimore area.

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