A Burst of Hope on Checkerboard Mesa

The day was perfect. The sun was out, the top was down on the Fiat, and my wife was delighted.

Each new turn on the amazing Highway 9, through Zion National Park in Southern Utah, brought a fresh vista flooding the senses with wonder.

A twist in the road and there was Checkerboard Mesa, a massive sandstone formation etched with cracks forming a criss-cross pattern.

Once the huge formation hosted a variety of life but now various forces, some immediate and abrupt, and some gradual and perennial, have stripped away any impression of green and exposed the cracks and fissures.

Initially, I cast the Mesa as a metaphor for despair and hopelessness. Thinking of my own struggles and that of my family, I envisioned the cracks and marks of erosion as the trails of all our best efforts and good intentions. No despair feels more barren than that which comes with the exhaustion of all good, well-intentioned effort.

But then, as I nosed the Fiat into one of the pullouts, I began to notice small spots of green, many containing the various colours of columbine. Flowers, not visible from the highway, required a pause to be seen.

I smiled. It felt like God said, “Gotcha!” Even in the splendour of a countryside known for red rock and amazing canyons, carved by erosion over centuries, new life will not be stifled.

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