The Last Trombone has been quiet for a few weeks, with my being very busy with a number of things. But I’m back on the grid to share a few things with readers.
I love the Grand Canyon. Arizona’s nickname is The Grand Canyon State. And why not? The Grand Canyon is one of the natural wonders of the world, the product of the extraordinary artistic hand of our Sovereign God. It is there, in all of its vast, quiet majesty, for our pleasure, for our wonder, for our imaginations.
My wife and I had a chance to get away from the Phoenix area’s summer heat last week and spend a few days at the Grand Canyon where it was about 20 degrees cooler. I cannot count how many times we’ve been there. No matter: each time it is new.
We didn’t have time to go down in the Canyon on this trip so we spent our time with a leisurely hike along the South Rim’s trail, from the El Tovar hotel out to Hermit’s Rest. With every step we were aware of the sense of awe that Charles Higgins felt when he penned these words that appear over an entrance to the El Tovar hotel:
Dreams of mountains, as in their sleep they brood on things eternal.
Indeed. Things eternal. That is what we think of as we gaze over the landscape. The Grand Canyon has shaped us.
A few years ago, when I was Arizona State University’s trombone professor, The ASU Desert Bones Trombone Choir recorded its first CD, Of Grandeur, Grace, and Glory. I chose as the cover image a photo I took of the Grand Canyon. Is there a better subject in the world to illustrate the idea of grandeur?
And in 2014, when the International Trombone Association conferred on my its highest honor, the ITA AWARD, the ITA Journal wanted to run a story about me. The editor asked me for some photos and I chose the one below for the cover. It had to be the Grand Canyon.
I’ve taken thousands of photos of the Grand Canyon. I can’t restrain myself. Yet not one can adequately capture the majesty of this remarkable place. But I keep trying.
I also enjoy seeing how artists have looked at the Grand Canyon through their own, unique eyes. One of my favorite paintings of the Grand Canyon is by Charles H. Pabst. Titled Mystic River, it hangs in the lobby of the El Tovar Hotel. Its Art Deco style, the dramatic use of the yellow/orange color palate, and the stillness of the water gives much to think on.
Of course, the most important thing about the Grand Canyon is summarized by a plaque at on the Lookout Studio that overhangs the South Rim, a reminder of what all that my eyes see is all about:
It’s always difficult to get a good photo of this important reminder; the light never seems to be right when I’m there. So here is the text with its important Truths:
O Lord, how manifold are thy works!
In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.
- Psalm 104:24
And below, a prayer:
Father almighty, wonderful Lord, Wondrous Creator, be ever adored;
Wonders of nature sing praises to You, Wonder of wonders –
I may praise, too!
Another of these plaques, types of which I have seen all around the world in England, Greece, Israel and throughout the United States, is found at Hermit’s Rest, with a mighty hymn of praise:
Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Lift up a song to Him who rides upon the clouds;
His name is the Lord, exult before Him.
- Psalm 68:4
Back home in Phoenix, my attention has turned to other tasks, but the memory of this short trip to the Grand Canyon remains with me. If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, I hope you will come someday. I’m sure it will change you, too.