On our family vacation this year, my family headed to Yellowstone National Park. The Park covers 2.2 million acres and 3,400 square miles. Learning about how the generations that came before us chose to preserve this area gave me a new appreciation for visionary leaders. President Ulysses S. Grant signed YNP as the first National Park in the United States in 1872. The Park is enjoyed by over 3 million visitors each year and is staffed by over 800 employees that help make it enjoyable for its tourists.
One of the days, we chose to do the Southern Loop, which is comprised of many geological formations and a trip around the large Yellowstone Lake. Because of the many odd hot springs and mineral deposits, they don’t recommend swimming in the lake, but boating was allowed. On that drive, my family busied themselves with whatever they do to try not to cause fighting in the back so Dad doesn’t get mad. My wife, Keri, sat in the passenger seat either reading a book, breaking up the fights, and/or enjoying the scenery, often all at the same time. I…well…I drove. A lot. (See above for total square miles😏) But I didn’t mind, seeing the beauty of God’s creation was enjoyable, and made up for my stiff back and sore butt. Stopping at attractions along the way broke up the monotony.
As I navigated the Southern Loop, I couldn’t help but notice the same sign from time to time: “Divide”. I drove past a sign that had that word on it many times around the Loop. I asked Keri and she looked at the map. Turns out the “Divide” sign is posted to alert you that you are crossing the Continental Divide. And with the many twists and turns of the road and the Divide, we ended up crossing back and forth across it multiple times.
The Continental Divide. “Hmmpf” I thought in my mind. “I vaguely remember this concept from grade school. What is it?” So, I asked the family. Now, my 3 kids are a) still in school so they are less removed from learning this concept and b) they are smart.
“Dad, you don’t know what the Continental Divide is? That’s so sad.” came the reply.
“Well, I’ve heard of it, explain it to me.” I responded.
“It’s the line that splits the North American continent so that when you place a drop of water on that line, it will either flow West to the Pacific or East to the Atlantic.” My little students gleamed with pride from the back seat sensing that they’re smarter than Dad.
“Hmmpf.” I said again. “Got it. Thanks. Resume your activities please.” And we drove some more.
The Continental Divide. Such an odd concept. Useful? Not sure. Interesting? Ya, kinda. I guess one day somebody decided they wanted to know which way a drop of water would flow, and they mapped a line and voilà, a line was drawn. Turns out this line starts in Alaska and twists and turns its way through the United States. And yes, a portion of the line crosses Yellowstone National Park.
The Continental Divide. I couldn’t help but think that it’s sometimes more than a Line, more than where a drop of water will land. Sometimes that Division lands in the very hearts and souls of our great Country. Messy politics. Conspiracy theories. BLM. Critical Race Theory. Gender confusion. Abortion rights. Guns. Climate change. Immigration. Need I say more?
The list seems endless. The bounty of a free country: freedom of thought. The downfall: the same? Somehow, it must all be controlled. Order must be made out of the chaos. “The Line” must be protected. Politicians speak in certain tones and words to as to acquiesce the listener. Yet in so doing, they upset another half. Back and forth it goes. The Line criss-crossing through the very center of our belief system.
Yet, somehow, humanity survives. Yes, even thrives. The hate that seems to pervade our newsfeeds often clogs our minds to believe that nothing is good, nothing is right, it’s all going to hell in a handbasket. Yet, if you look close enough, if you turn off the TV and put down the device, The Line stands. Love conquers. Optimism bubbles up like a hot spring.
Though our beliefs may not be in alignment, somehow we come together to form a more perfect nation. And through our Forefather’s wisdom and writings, our Constitution holds us together. It serves as The Line. Whether your beliefs fall to the right or left is completely within your right to do so. You see, that…is Freedom.
I glance in the rearview mirror as my kids continue to fiddle with their gadgets as we make our way back to our condo. I return my gaze to the road. The mountains are majestic. The sky, so blue and large. What’s lies behind pales in comparison to what lies ahead. I have a new appreciation for the Continental Divide. And a renewed hope that our future is bright. My kids, and yours, will graduate from high schools and colleges across our great country. They will fill jobs and positions that they’ve been fully trained for. They’ll earn a good wage and make a positive contribution to our society.
May the Division that is exploited each day on the nightly news, not infiltrate their hearts. May the next generation step confidently forward into this world, seeking to know each other’s differences, and finding a path to unite, not divide. May they still cling strong to the beliefs they hold dear, yet show respect and love and a listening ear to those who may differ.
May they hold The Line. May they reach across and take a hand of someone on the other side of the Great Divide. May they appreciate our Freedom and resolve to protect it…to the end.
And may that be said not just of the next generation, but ours as well…