Nature has a way of making me feel small and insignificant. Mountains often leave me in awe at the raw power necessary to create them, rivers that cut their way through earth and stone possess a force I sometimes envy, and tall redwoods with the memory of hundreds of seasons etched into their rings leave my neck and my mind aching as I look up seeking their tops that seem to touch the sky.
But nothing has made me feel as small as the mountains that populate the landscape of Glacier National Park... the only gifts of nature I have seen that rival the Swiss Alps.
I recently explored some of Glacier National Park with my wife and kids, and while I had been told of the majesty hidden within this wilderness, I had no understanding of what I would see... what I would experience.
On one particular day, we drove up the Going To The Sun Road. As we wound our way up the 4 thousand feet of elevation gain through switchback after switchback to Logan Pass, I couldn't stop giggling. An almost nervous laugh escaped my lips at every twist and turn of the road. Gazing up at the peaks and down thousands of feet to the valley below, I experienced a smallness that took my breath away. Yes, the beauty was breathtaking but so was the feeling of insignificance. The amount of power needed to create these massive masterpieces is impossible to comprehend.
For a few moments, I found myself thinking about how little one person can do compared to the power of nature... the force that created our world. After we exited our vehicle and began working our way toward one of the trailheads, I had a feeling of powerlessness running through my mind and body. I couldn't shake it as we began to walk down a dirt path.
Then I saw trash and debris scattered across the trail just a few feet in front of me. My heart broke for a moment. One individual's power to affect change in the world is so limited, but a group of careless individuals, selfish people who place their own needs and desires above others, can be a powerfully negative force, leaving damage in their wake.
Then, in an instant, my perspective shifted as a young woman reached down and picked up the trash that held my attention. As she placed the debris in her pack, I noticed she had collected a lot more than what littered the trail in front of me. Others were doing the same thing.
As individuals, we might have little power compared to the peaks of the Continental Divide. But when the actions of one person influence another to do the same, the power of those actions are amplified 2 times, 4 times, or a thousand times.
There is no denying that we are all small in comparison to the grandeur of nature, but we can be a mighty agent of change when we gather together around a purpose beyond ourselves.
As we continued our hike, a line from a song by Amber Run kept ringing through my head, "I don't want to be the center of anything, just a part of something bigger."
Today I write all this to pose a question, are you desiring to be the center, or are you pursuing something bigger?