I took these pictures while on our family vacation in the Southwestern USA. I love this part of the country; it’s so dramatic, even otherworldly. Expansive vistas, insane rock formations, high winds, infinite hues, steep peaks and deep canyons – there is no area where so much diverse beauty is so readily at hand.
But this is a harsh and unforgiving land. Ceaseless winds, brutally hot by day, bitterly cold at night, with scarcely enough water to support the sparse ecology. There is little of practical value to invite us into the realm of desert and high mountains, it is so difficult for anyone to survive there. On the other hand, when we think of paradise it is lush and green, accompanied by an abundance of cool, refreshing water.
Couldn’t we then say that the American West is an example of nature’s cruelty? If God is good, why would he create such an inhospitable, even hellish environment? Wouldn’t he have created a world with no hardships, no pain, no dangers?
If that were his plan, then we would have no deserts, no ice capped mountains, no dangerous canyons, no cliffs, no frozen lakes, no grinding glaciers, no unnavigable white water. No flash floods, no cyclones, no droughts, no earthquakes. No exploding volcanoes, no brush fires, no tornadoes, no rock slides, – none of the natural calamities that some attribute to a ‘fallen world’. There would always be just the right amount of rain, just the right amount of sunshine and the temperature would always be around 70 degrees. We call that Hawaii. But even that particular paradise is a result of (and constantly threatened by) the earth’s violent nature.
If that were God’splan then there would be no such dangerous place as the Grand Canyon, or Monument Valley, the Superstition Mountains, the Painted Desert, Yosemite or Yellowstone. The entire world would be as green and safe as Central Park in the spring. (OK, bad analogy)
But even the fabled bucolic homestead, nestled in a fertile valley within a grove of shady trees and surrounded by fertile pasture, owes its existence to the unrelenting and heartless ‘cruelty’ of the earth.