by Pastor Dave Sutter
Hidden Valley is the destination of a one-mile loop trail in Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. Back in the 1800’s of white American expansion in the West, the valley was said to have been a popular spot for rustlers to hide their cattle -- thus the name “hidden valley.” The valley is nearly totally enclosed from the outside world with walls of rock. The rock surrounds a pristine watering hole where herds could find shelter and drink.
As one hikes the trail back to Hidden Valley today, the National Park Service has placed markers describing the many ways in which the varied plants and animals have adapted and changed over the years enabling them to survive the extremes of the environment: sun, cold, drought, and wind, finding ways to borrow and contribute one to the other as need arose. At the conclusion of the trail is a sign with a poem written by Robinson Jeffers. The sign highlights the co-existence of varied species of plants, animals, and humans in the valley and the delicate balance they have achieved over time as they have adapted to the needs of the environment.
The poem highlights something even bigger:
Integrity is wholeness…
The wholeness of life and things,
The divine beauty of the universe,
Love that, not man apart from that.
If it is true that, in Christ, God is bringing together all things and that God is uniting all things in Christ, perhaps the Hidden Valley is a foretaste of the new heavens and earth God is creating. In the midst of God’s love for the earth and God’s love for humans, we are linked one to the other.
May we continue to seek our call and our connection to God and to all of God’s creation. May we learn and grow and adapt that we might coexist together in love and affirm all that Christ has invited us to experience in God and in the Spirit.