July 19 always sneaks up on me, but it always hits me hard. Eight years ago while playing soccer with a half dozen friends a burst of lighting knocked us all to the ground; everyone one rose to their feet except my friend Andrew. Each year, on the anniversary, I ask why everyone but Andrew lived to see another day. Each year my question is met with a deafening silence, but this year was slightly different. This year, I crossed into Oregon on July 19 after hiking nearly 1700 miles through the very long state of California.
A few miles after crossing into Oregon, the trail climbed to the top of a grassy crest. Several varieties of wildflowers garnished the hillside, and from the top of the crest I saw countless ridge lines receding to the horizon from every side. As I attempted to absorb the grandeur of the moment I recalled one of the oldest stories in Hebrew scripture. The book of Job speaks of a man who lives a very fruitful life but then loses everything. Throughout the story, Job asks God several deep questions. At the end of the story when God finally chooses to speak He doesn't even address the questions that Job asked; instead God speaks of His power and splendor found throughout creation and finally Job's acute perspective widens to see his small spot in the cosmos.
Over the past 1700 miles I have witnessed countless views which help illustrate my smallness, and I'm learning to embrace the tension in which life seems to hang in the balance knowing my temporal vignettes of reality can never fully piece together the complexity of the cosmos. Job never heard the first chapter dialog between God and the Accuser which lead to his suffering. So I reside in the hope that, like Job, my story and Andrew's story extend beyond what is revealed within the limited spectrum of human understanding.