Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Chapel in Yosemite Valley

Photo by Michael Gordon
Many years ago I had the pleasure of going to Yosemite in the dead of winter.  I was joining a photographer friend and his son for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday in mid-January.  While there we stayed at Camp Curry, and spent our days in the snowy and sub-freezing temperatures of Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point, photographing, hiking, and making snow angels (Matt Brubaker was VERY good at making snow angels!)  I enjoyed the experience in so many ways, but have yet, after all these years, to pull out my 35mm slides from that trip and scan them.

Yosemite is known for its grand glacier-carved granite wonders such as Half Dome, or El Capitan, or Bridalveil Falls.  But on that trip I remember the small things: the leaves on the ground coated in snow and ice; the sound of my boots crunching in the snow on the hike up to Mirror Lake; the whispering whooshing sound snowflakes make as they fall gently to the ground; and the chapel.  Man has left his imprint on the valley, but none so gentle and yet so profound as the Yosemite Chapel.  And in winter, it takes on a grandeur that seems to focus the eyes from the granite spires and walls to this small building in a meadow.  

I see Yosemite itself as one of God's greatest Cathedrals - not one built by the toil and sweat of workers and artisans.  But a Cathedral of true worship, where we can feel and hear His Presence, because HE built it  It is HIS Cathedral.  And in that valley, covered in snow, seeing that chapel was seeing a place that attempts to condense all of that grandeur and worship into a small, yet significant, building.  Maybe because we as humans need a sense of "place" to worship God, we gravitate towards that chapel.  Perhaps that is why the chapel is significant for many: they DO feel that it is a special place in such a great Cathedral, and they feel that connection to God by being in that small, yet special, chapel, embraced in the arms of the cliffs and granite walls.  God is there, just as He is all around us in that valley, and just as He is all around us each and every day, and every time we dwell within our minds and think of that small chapel in that grand valley.

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