Going from Montreat, NC to Las Vegas, NV in just a little over 24 hours may be one of the most stark contrasts of my life. From that thin place on the mountain, surrounded by lush green plants and over a thousand teenagers wearing t-shirts proclaiming their faith and seeking genuine relationships to “Sin City”, the desert paved with buildings full of the fake ____(fill in the blank: Eiffel Tower, pyramids, people, hope) and full of things I hope my youth won’t experience for a long while. Last week in Montreat was about helping youth hear the voice of God. Sunday in Vegas was about trying to drown out the voices of gimmicks and the lure of luck.
Kinda makes your head spin doesn’t it?
Even with the gimmicks and cheesiness that Vegas offers, my parents and I were excited to make it a stop over on our way to the Grand Canyon. We took advantage of a buffet, won a few bucks on penny slots, saw a Cirque du Soleil show (which was unbelievable and not at all fake!) and took a stroll on the strip at night to marvel at the lights. Deciding that nothing in Vegas could top the Cirque show, we headed to bed to start our trek to Canyon on Monday.
As we drove away from Vegas through the desert and seemingly into nothing, I felt like I could breathe again. Vegas was great fun but it was stifling, crowded, and left me feeling worn out. Stopping off at Hoover Dam gave us all a chance to be impressed with feats of engineering designed for the common good, unlike the copycat attractions in Vegas designed to put money in the pockets of a few. (Though we did get stuck in a lower tunnel of the dam when the elevators stopped working…bit of an adventure). We got our kicks on Route 66 and enjoyed the 4 hour drive to the Grand Canyon.
This morning, we are waking up to indescribable beauty and serenity at the Canyon. Give me this over the lights of Vegas any day! I’m finding myself back in a thin place, away from distractions that tend to keep us occupied in ways that are not healthy, back to nature and the beauty that comes along with it. Which makes me wonder…
What are the “Vegas places” in my life? What are my “Canyon places”? What shiny and loud things keep me from taking part in the beauty and peace of the day to day? What fake attractions do I allow myself to substitute for the REAL thing? When am I relying on the false hope of luck instead of the grace and peace of God? What are our Vegas places and how do we make more space for the Canyon? While I’m not sure of the answers to these questions, I do know that the “Canyons” of life give us more space to try and figure it out. Find yourself a canyon today. Here’s mine.