“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours.” 1 Chronicles 29:11a
We arrived at the airport at 3:30 AM as instructed, two hours before our flight. After traveling in three different planes, renting a car and driving, we finally pulled up to our bucket list destination over 1600 miles from home.
Before we left home, we watched a movie with glimpses of this national park and read a book about it. We read a second book on the plane in preparation. We researched the museums and trails and features of this park and surrounding state and federal lands. Now the moment came to walk through the gates of our longed for site.
The mountain air, scented with freshness, felt chilly on our Floridian cheeks and fingers. A light rain fell, tapping our raincoats and hoods. Excitement invigorated our steps. Then, standing at its glorious foot, we doubled over, laughing and wheezing at the sight. Behold our vision of Mount Rushmore.
A self-guided, audio tour directed us in a half mile loop below the sculpture. The narrator explained the sculptor’s design and the engineering required to transform a mountain into a statement of the spirit of the United States. Stops in the audio trek highlighted various views from different perspectives, each one brought on more hysterical laughter, since clouds shrouded the mountain. One particular stop instructed us to walk into an opening between two elephant-sized boulders with a small gap apparently framing one of the busts far above. Another tourist exited as I entered the semi-cave, he also chuckled.
We retired to an ice cream shop and watched the mist through floor to ceiling windows while savoring a vacation treat. At random intervals, the clouds thinned and a stone head materialized for a few moments.
“I can see Washington!” I shouted.
Tourists rushed outdoors to snap a photo of the glimpse.
At one point on our walking tour we saw all four men. The rain brought out shades of different veins of stones, which unintentionally portrayed Lincoln weeping a ribbon of tears and Jackson needing a handkerchief. We happened to stand at an angle beneath them, looking up their noses. Our shoulders shook with giggling.
The tour pointed out interesting facts about the monument’s construction and purpose, and we enjoyed ourselves, despite the rain. Artifacts, photos and videos displayed in the museums fascinated visitors. The visit was not a bust (pun intended). On the rest of our vacation days, on which not a drop of rain fell, we thoroughly enjoyed hiking, touring a cave, fishing and spotting wildlife .
On our last day, we decided to drive by the monument again to see it more clearly. We arose to a densely smokey morning. Fearing that we might drive into a forest fire, we stopped to ask where the fire burned.
“This smoke is blowing down from Canada. It has already burned thousands of acres.”
Sobered for Canada but relieved for us, we continued to drive toward Mount Rushmore. The view revealed four presidents but not clearly. From this angle, the busts all seemed to be looking in different directions and none toward us, as if they didn’t want to meet our eyes. The smoke reminded us of the turmoil in our country, where the vision of the United States has blurred.
Our citizens and leaders made mistakes. They were sinful people. We currently choose foolish decisions, and future citizens will create havoc, because we are all sinful. Thank God, He sent Jesus to pay for our stupid and wicked choices. Thank God that He forgives those who turn to Him.
Meanwhile, we do our best to love Jesus and so live differently. We also laugh when we can, knowing the future looks bright with God in charge, whether we spot Him through the clouds and smoke or not. As impressive as those mountain men are, God is greater and alive. He sustains us and our world until He returns to remake the heavens and the earth, and best of all, remake the people who turn to Him.
“Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head above all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11b