Stars shimmering in a great silence. Lyrical rivers running over rock beds. Air so pure and fresh, it takes your breath away.
And the beauty? Well, it is indescribable. All I can say is that it touched the heart of my soul.
That is what I remember most about my trips to three National Parks: Yosemite in California, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Glacier in Montana. Three totally different environments, three totally unique experiences.
Yet, each one gifted me with a life changing perspective: the opportunity to witness pristine physical beauty beyond imagination; an overwhelming emotional response of gratitude that these lands were preserved for all; and a strong spiritual sense that I was witnessing God’s creation in its purest form.
But in this critical moment in our history, these national treasures are being trashed and vandalized. Due to the government shutdown, which has kept our National Parks open to the public but left them severely unsupervised and unprotected, these sacred American landscapes are being decimated by the very folks who supposedly love them.
My heart breaks at photos documenting park latrines and roads littered with mounds of garbage; at the threatened Joshua trees cut down just for the fun of it; at visitors blazing trails or off-roading across sensitive and endangered environments.
Gratefully, many passionate volunteers are trying to reverse the situation: picking up litter, cleaning bathrooms, and doing what they can to protect the land. The damage done, however, is expected to last for years.
Our National Parks have been called, “America’s Best Idea,” and I believe, as do many, that they are. But until this incomprehensible abuse stops, I will weep, not only at the trashing of these national treasures, but also for “We the People.”
PHOTO CREDIT: MARNIE O. MAMMINGA