Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Churches – Tori Valcarcel, April 13, 2021

Devotion for April 13, 2021 from Tori Valcarcel, Ministry in Context Student for CTK and HTLC:

The Grand Canyon
Öngtupqa to the Hopi people*

A place of great beauty and a reminder of the Creation we are a part of. I was reminded of the time I was fortunate enough to spend there a few years ago (shout-out here to the CTK group and our Zoom background chats!), particularly of something that always comes up when one looks at photos of the Grand Canyon- it is incredibly hard to get a good photo. This may be a surprising insight if you’ve never been, but most of the photo opportunities one has, whether on the North, South, or West Rim, only allow for one small vantage point. There is only so much straining over the edge, only so much widening of the camera lens that one can do to try and capture all of the beauty in one image. Even being at the canyon’s edge in person can feel like you are looking at a vast movie screen, it is so awe inducing.  

And yet, that does not stop us from looking. From taking pictures. From inventing drones and helicopters to see from above. Getting higher up, trying to imagine what the entire breadth and depth of the canyon system really entails. In a way, we are trying to look with God’s eyes- to really see. The truth is that we will always fall short- I could provide you with pictures, videos, measurements and geological facts, tell you stories about the Native people who have lived and protected the land for thousands of years, and yet you (and I) would still not really “see”. 

And yet, for all that our looking and knowing and seeing falls short, we still try. We must, it seems, like human compulsion to keep reaching out and understand. When I see God in nature, it is a reminder to look for God in all of Creation. Not just the beautiful pictures of the Grand Canyon or the faces of my loved ones, but in the hearts and minds of those who annoy me. People who would inflict violence or incite fear or hoard their belongings. It is easier to ignore the call to see from above when the sight is not so pleasing to the eye. But the Creator who made us and Öngtupqa made those people, too, no matter how much I wish it otherwise. It is here I rest in the contradictions of our faith, that the Spirit moves us to stretch our vision, widen our camera lenses, and that we have already been given the grace for the places we inevitably fall short. 

May you see with God’s eyes today, 


*Öngtupqa is also the name of an incredible music project- “A Hopi cultural music and video project celebrating the most ancient sounds to emerge from Ongtupqa (the Hopi name for Grand Canyon which translates to “Salt Canyon”), recorded inside its most significant structure, the Desert View Watchtower.” Here is a news article about it, and the website for the project. 

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