Summer is a time when many take road trips, either as a part of vacation, or for other reasons. The weather is generally more favorable for travel in this part of the world--no pesky snow or ice to worry about. It's a good time to hit the open road.
Recently I was away from Gesu to attend some meetings in California. I drove with two other Jesuits to the Bay Area (Santa Clara University) for these meetings. The trip was long, but very enjoyable. We were able to make good time (the speed limit on the interstate highways in much of the west is 80 MPH), and do some site seeing along the way. I had done most of that trip at various times in the past. The salt flats and the high desert in Nevada were new to me. It was a pleasure to visit Jesuits in Omaha, Denver, California and--on the return trip--Pine Ridge, SD. We also saw many natural wonders, which make us declare with Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ, that "the world is charged with grandeur of God..."
As we made our way across Utah and Nevada, I was impressed again with a truth about this country: IT IS VAST! It stretches on across many geographical regions: forests, plains, mountains, valleys, coastlines...We drove at a pretty good rate for hours in the same state! If any boredom began to take hold, all I had to do was look out the window. I was also impressed by how dry it is in large swaths of the west. We are very blessed to have abundant fresh water here in the upper Midwest with the Great Lakes and waterways.
God has gifted us with natural wonders that can inspire us in many ways. Artists share their visions of the beauty of creation. Hikers and bikers enjoy the fine weather and lovely terrain. Travelers and pilgrims are blessed along the way with prayers and encounters that truly make the journey holy and memorable. The grace that I detect from this trip is that vision--of the eyes and of the heart--is made a bit clearer by wide open spaces, the changing colors, and the rising and setting of the sun. The world is indeed filled with the "grandeur of God."
As we returned to Wisconsin, I was impressed in a new way by the beauty of our own state. I had a Mass in Mercer for the Nativity summer camp. I hadn't been in the "Northwoods" for years and, as we made our way the last few miles to Mercer through the forests of northern Wisconsin, I was happy to have made a great journey with Jesuit companions. I also find myself inspired to do what I can to protect the beauty of creation for future generations. God bless you and all your journeys this summer!!