Thursday, October 22, 2015
A Magical, Mystical, Mysterious Moment
Last Friday, I spent the day in Yellowstone National Park with a friend, a congregant in my church. It's shameful to admit to my fellow Bozemanites, but this was only my second trip into the Park in my life...but it was certainly a day I won't soon forget.
In contrast to my Yellowstone inexperience, my friend has spent about a day per week in the park for the past 27 years. Needless to say, he knows his way around. We bypassed many of the standard park attractions, opting instead for some off-the-beaten-path goodness of which only the most fervent park aficionados might know. And one of these obscure locations served as the setting to a profound, mystical experience that caught me off-guard and about had me in tears.
We were heading back to our car after a short hike near the Firehole River, when we detoured down a riverfront trail. It was cold that morning, about 35 degrees, and a thick layer of steam hovered throughout the valley. After a few hundred yards we came upon an incredible mud pot, bubbling and boiling and projecting mud as much as 10 feet into the brisk, morning air. We were thoroughly enjoying this thermal anomaly, captivated by its mysterious oddity, when I heard a noise and turned around to a great surprise.
It was a buffalo...no more than a hundred feet from us. And as I peered into the thickness of the steam, I could see more and more arriving behind him.
My friend and I moved up the hill to a safe overlook and both stood speechless for 10-15 minutes. There were about 35 buffalo, innocently walking and grazing and playing in the meadow below us, all within a few hundred feet. The buffalo snorted, the river babbled, the steam moved gently across the plain. So peaceful. So serene. So beautiful. And in that moment, I felt closer to nature and God than I have in quite sometime. It was most-certainly a spiritual experience. Surely God had been in that place and I was unaware.