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Life has been overwhelming lately. The pandemic continues to drag on with no realistic end in sight. Wildfires consume acre after acre in the western United States. Hurricanes rage across our southern coasts. Throughout the land, economic and unemployment woes plague us. And we appear to be poised for another close and divisive presidential election.

Like most of us, I imagine, I haven't always handled all of this well. I've had stretches of time where it was difficult to get out of bed. I've wanted to throw my phone across the room more often than I can count. I've put on the quarantine 15. And I've tried to escape it all by watching entirely too many episodes of "Naked and Afraid."

In a desperate grasp at regaining some perspective and balance, my wife and I packed up our two youngest children and drove out to the Grand Canyon to do some tent camping. We thought some time on the road and in nature would be restorative to our souls. We hoped that the starkness of the desert and the grandeur of the National Park would spark a renewed spirit within us.

But the trip itself was not without its challenges. Right before we left, I was informed about a work crisis that couldn't be resolved until we returned. It hung over me like a dark cloud. Speaking of dark clouds, it poured on us as we drove west, necessitating that we abandon our plan to stop and camp on the way. When we woke up in a hotel the next morning, we contemplated turning around and just going home.

While it wasn't raining at the Grand Canyon, it was bitterly cold at night -- the below freezing kind of cold. We huddled together and shivered through the long night hours. When morning came, we clumsily made a new fire and sat beside it, all the while willing the water to heat up faster so we could make coffee.

In many ways, it was far from an idyllic vacation.

And then we stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon. If you've never had a chance to visit, I can't recommend it enough. The majesty. The colors. The sheer enormity of it. The Grand Canyon makes you feel small, in a good way.

We gawked at the different vistas. We took pictures of the wildlife. But what will mostly likely be long remembered was our hike down the South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point, which is appropriately named. We started hesitantly, wondering if our 5-year-old would be able to make the hike. We ended exhausted, wondering if our 16-year-old was going to have an asthma attack.

In between, we descended into and returned out of a whole other world. It was scary at times. But it was also breathtakingly beautiful -- not all that different than the world we live in every day. And I needed to be reminded of that.

Robb Ryerse is the co-pastor of Vintage Fellowship in Fayetteville. He is the author of two books. You can reach him at


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