August has been a gauntlet of goodbyes. No sooner is one finished than I’m smacked in the face with another. Our last ACMNP worship service. My last hike in the canyon. Friends driving and flying away— I’ve learned that saying goodbye, unlike juggling or playing the flute, does not get easier with practice.
The meteors have been falling since the beginning of August, but Monday night was the peak. It was the last night we all had together before the first of us left. We drove out to where no one else was in the middle of the night and lay on our backs looking up.
Here, on a clear night, the sky is salted full of stars and the Milky Way stands out like a ribbon. That night the meteors streaked in bright smears of light, and we counted dozens.
It was too dark to see everyone’s faces, but the voices I’ve grown used to rose and fell as I lay there with my favorite people in the whole Grand Canyon.
One girl brought her guitar and picked it softly as we stared up. I’m sure I could come up with metaphors for how much more beautiful the stars were having left the sky, for how bright shined the trace of their exits—but it’s enough for now to say we listened to each other, watched the sky, and knew there would never be another moment quite like we had then.
“He loves us—oh, how He loves us—oh, how He loves…” she sang and we joined in, remembering the reason why we came out here in the first place.
Then we sang the song that’s become my anthem for the summer, “Indescribable.”
“You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name—you are amazing, God.”
As we leave one by one I’m comforted by that—that the God who named the stars extends far past the canyon. Even if I never see these people again, we’re united in purpose and passion. We’re traveling off to serve the homeless in St. Louis, to perform music in Pittsburgh, to ask the right questions in California and Honduras.
And to always look back on Grand Canyon, for better or for worse, as a home.