Take a look at this photo. What do you see?
While you’re thinking about it, I’ll give a little information on the picture. I shot it in September 2013 during our last hike in Yellowstone National Park, so we were already gearing up for autumn. In fact, we had a nice little snowfall in Canyon Village the week after this was taken.
The site of this photo is south of Roosevelt Lodge. It shows the Yellowstone River, flowing northward, toward us. It’s just coming out of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
When I first spotted it, I saw a message in the image.
Imagine, if you will, we’re part of the river. We’re clipping along, you and I, pretty much side-by-side and life is good.
Then, as happens when part of a river, we drift apart but then encounter a sudden interruption in the flow of the river. Unexpectedly, dry land appears where you and I should be.
It is worse than that.
We are separated. We are pulled by forces seemingly outside our control; you’re racing to the right, along the east side, and I to the left.
We find ourselves caught up in our new environments. There are some radical things going on. Both sides recognize half of the population has disappeared. There is no explaining why and, pretty soon, nobody seems to care.
“If they wanted to be with us, they wouldn’t have gone away. Who needs them?”
Things get somewhat nasty, the lefts and rights becoming more and more entrenched in thinking about themselves and caring less and less about the others. That bitterness is troubling to you and me. We’ve not seen each other in so long that we are beginning to wonder if what everyone says is true.
Do you feel that way about me? Do I maybe feel the same about you? Why did you leave me? Is it true you’re really as bad as all the others on your side? If you aren’t, then why are you not here with me?
Then, after an unbelievably long wait, left and right are reunited!
It’s not all happiness, though. After so much negativity and unsubstantiated name-calling, doubts are slow to subside. To make it worse, you and I are having a difficult time finding one another. Indeed, each of us wonders if the other is looking at all.
Eventually, it happens; we find each other.
And you know what?
We find things are different.
We’ve been influenced by our recent surroundings; we’ve changed. There are things we feel differently about. You and I have starkly opposing views on some topics. Differences we never suspected before our separation. Still, however, we find something else is true.
I still care about you and you still care about me.
And we decide we can make it, believing differently but working for each other.
Two diverse paths. Two dissimilar experiences. One common goal: helping one another.
Because, hey, this river is headed to the Gulf of Mexico regardless how we feel about it, so we might as well make it a happy trip.
OK, no story played through my mind when I first looked onto this scene, but I did think something like this:
“How much better it is when we take our different sides and find some middle ground to work toward. What a force we would become.”