I have been in Arizona with my family for the last week, visiting my grandparents. I was so excited for this visit and it has been just what I hoped – a chance to relax, a chance to stock up on Vitamin D for the rest of the year, a chance to enjoy this family that is a wonderful blessing from God, and a chance to see this amazing and different part of the country.

But my pictures of and post about Arizona I will save for another day… there’s something else I want to share right now. And it’s about my 17-year-old brother, Kevin.

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Inspired by my recent jobs, Kevin spent one day applying to national parks himself, and after filling out a digital stack of applications thought no more of it. Then he heard back from the company at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, who offered him a job for three months as a ‘Kitchen Assistant’ (fancy name for dishwasher). So at the end of this vacation, we will be flying out of Phoenix minus one member of our family. We will be leaving Kevin behind to live on his own, for the first time in his life. But what a place to start. 🙂

As an older sibling, it has been a reminder to me that what I do influences my brothers. I am so excited for Kevin, because I know all of the joys he will have. I know that as long as he doesn’t sit and play video games during his days off (which I know he won’t), he is going to have some great adventures and meet some zany but awesome people. I know he’s going to see good and bad characters. I know he’s going to have a summer he will never forget.

We visited the Grand Canyon for the first time on Wednesday, and as I was journaling about it afterwards, this came out. I usually don’t wax so poetic in my journal, but having a sibling leave home for the first time tends to bring out this side in me, I guess, like when Caleb joined the army

June 21st, 2013

On Wednesday we were sure to all get up “early”, and we packed a lunch, then headed towards the Canyon.

It is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Flagstaff to the park. In Dad’s youth the overlook was a place people could just drive their cars right up to, almost a simple pull-out. Now there are 4 spacious parking lots, a visitor center, restrooms, a gift shop, with a path leading to a balcony-enclosed view.

As we were walking to the view we passed a group in a train with their eyes closed until they came to the balcony – so they saw the canyon all at once, before them. Caleb thought that was a great idea so I lead him. 🙂

Truly ‘grand’ is an insufficient adjective. As I have been writing in all of my postcards to friends, the canyon is 5,000 ft. deep, I think over 15 miles wide in places, and 270 miles long. At our overlook we could see but a fourth of it. And yet it was still so impossible to grasp, just by gazing at it.

At least Kevin will be able to see it in all of its moods. During the light of sunrise and at twilight, in the darkness as the stars come forth. In the near-quiet of the morning as only a few hikers pass him, headed for the trailhead and many weary but rewarding miles. In the clamor of midday as people from everywhere crowd to see this massive, unique hole of the Southwest U.S.A.

When there are clouds and when it is clear. When it storms. When cloud shadows skim across the rock walls, across the distant ends of its depths.

He will hike in and out and the trembling and aches in his legs, the soreness the next day as he swings out of bed to get ready for work, will best tell him of the canyon’s size.

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Every morning and evening view, every step he takes into or along this canyon, every heartbeat his eyes linger on its features in hopefully never deceasing awe, will be another stitch sewn and tugged, binding the Canyon forever onto his memories and heart.

So that even when he leaves, it will remain. Inside him, wherever he goes and whatever else he experiences. Like a siren’s call, almost cruelly becoming the comparison of all future marvels he sees. Beckoning breathlessly in his mind – don’t forget me. Come – and see me again.

Yeah… like I said, I usually don’t write such poetic things in my journal. But all of these words spilled out because I thought of the Tetons, my own siren’s call sewn to my heart.

This post is for you, Kevin. I am so proud of you and I encourage you – every time you are given a choice between staying indoors and doing the comfortable, or doing something hard that sounds cool but internally makes your heart hesitate – do the latter. Those are the best times, when you push yourself and come to the end of yourself and then come back safe (COME BACK SAFE!) and collapse on your bed, thinking in awe what you just accomplished.

Minus drinking. Never choose that. But you already knew that, you smart boy. 😉

Have fun. Be safe. Call and write home.

I love you.

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