Monday, October 19, 2009

Wife Rule #119: Shoot for the Stars

She loves me, and that opens up a universe of opportunity.

We recently got back from three days--three marvelous days--of "roughing it" in the form of camping, cooking, and hiking in the wild, at Arches National Park.

Arches National Park isn't just any dumb old national park, either. It is a technicolor wonderland of sculpted red rock fins and canyons, hidden surprises and treasures, astonishing life eking out an existence under impossible circumstances, and electric blue skies so intense that they could literally cause your brain to blow a fuse if you stare heavenward too long.

And for me, it's absolutely dripping with nostalgia. Arches is a large part of the magic stuff of my childhood memories. It is where Dad used to drive us after he got off work, arriving late into the night when all we could make out were the strange silhouettes of the red rock formations against a backdrop of starry sky. It is where we once got lost in the maze called the Fiery Furnace and had to "escape" by lowering ourselves down cliffs and landing in secret arches in the sandstone fins. It is where I caught my severe case of desert fever, which still tends to flare up every spring and fall. It is where I first learned to love camping and hiking. It is where I concentrate my current efforts to brainwash my children into loving camping and hiking.

And it's working.

My younger sister, her husband, and her toddler accompanied us on this trip. At one point, as she struggled with her very energetic little boy, she pondered the work required for us to lug our family of seven (five children, ages 9 to 1) out here in the sand and rock, and asked my wife, "Why do you keep doing this?"

"If only you knew how much Matt loves this, you would understand," was my wife's simple reply.

Because she loves me.

And I love her, too. I also do inconvenient things to accommodate her needs and wants. We sometimes "go to Arches" for her, in her own way. We have agreed to do this stuff, together. It's just part of the package.

One of my favorite moments this trip was late the second night, after my wife had taken the younger three children to bed in the furnace-equipped trailer (it gets cold in the desert at night). I was sitting with my two older daughters by the last glowing embers of the fire, enjoying the silence and the stars before heading off to our tent. There was no moon during the duration of our trip, which opened the starry heavens above us in a glorious fashion. I can't remember ever seeing the Milky Way so clearly and distinctly before; we could make out individual shapes and features in the visible arm of our galaxy and discuss them together. We saw a number of shooting stars and spent a long while staring upward, relishing in the sights that are only available away from civilization.

I took the opportunity to tell my two daughters of the covenants the Lord made to Abraham and Sarah, that their posterity would be "as the stars of the heaven" (Genesis 22:17). After all, when the Lord made those promises to Abraham, he was most likely sitting under a starry sky much like this one, undiluted by city lights, in the stillness of the desert.

The stars of the heaven: mere billions is a drop in the bucket. The expanse of God's creations, as evidenced by the swirling clouds of light visible tonight, far exceeds the scope of what our minds are capable of comprehending.

This is what He promised to Abraham and his wife. This is what a husband and wife, joined together by God's power, are capable of. Consider the alternatives, I told my young daughters: an eternity of solitude, unattached to loved ones, or a family as great as the stars in the heavens.

My wife and I, after all, love each other. The small choices, like trips to Arches, are evidence enough of that. We're shooting for the stars.


Brooke said...

I love you. Thanks for taking me to Arches, the one in the desert and the one I see many times close to home.

Mom said...

Once again, all I an say is Wow. You two are an inspiration.

Alan Macfarlane said...

What up Matt. I wished I could have joined you, but in the process of adding our own "star" to our family soon made it unmanageable this year.

I hope I can join you one of these times.