In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…
There are some things in life that delight me in the most beautiful way, and this past weekend was undeniably one of them. Since moving here, we have filled up our Fridays and Saturdays with a various array of activities. Some weekends are booked up with plans, and others are low-key, cleaning and errand running kind of experiences. On Thursday night this past week, Jason and I were having dinner and chatting about the upcoming days off. We realized that with no plans and no obligations pending, we were free to consider a variety of options…
A while back, we purchased a “Wild Card,” or season pass, that gives us entrance to all of South Africa’s national parks. It’s been a while since we visited Kruger National Park (and we’re both completely enthralled with the atmosphere and wildlife there), so we decided on that we would pack up and leave early on Friday morning for a trip to Mpumalanga Province. In the process of planning our time away, it occurred to me that my good friend Megan had recently traveled back to SA, and that she and her husband (who live about 45 minutes from the park), might be available to join us or at least grab coffee or dinner while we were out near their home in White River. We called, and within the hour, we’d made plans to meet Megan and Gavin in Nelspruit, to join them for a day of swimming and visiting, to stay the night at their place, and to depart for Kruger early Saturday morning for a day of adventure in the park. The weekend was shaping up quite splendidly, and it had only just begun.
After a leisurely drive out of the city and into the hills and mountains of Mpumalanga, we met up with Megan and Gavin to travel to White River. When we arrived, we packed a picnic lunch, changed into swimsuits (or costumes, as they call them here), and piled into our car for a drive to the “pool”. We drove for about 45 minutes along the most refreshing rural roads, and all the while I was gearing up for an afternoon on the pool deck. At one point, Gavin told us to “take the next right,” and then instructed Jason to “pull over under that tree” alongside the road. From there, we hiked a few kilometers down into a field and around a rocky, forest-y bit of land. The path grew narrow, the incline steep, and before long, we were navigating through branches and rock formations until we reached our destination: one of the most glorious places I’ve ever visited. The “pool” we’d all been referring to turned out to be an incredible waterfall, completely ensconced by a verdant, rocky paradise that looked to me like something straight out of heaven. We set up our picnic lunch on the waterfall, then spent the afternoon swimming in the temperate, clear water below. There were moments that afternoon where I looked around me and could hardly believe that it was all so tangible and real. I couldn’t have envisioned a more wonderful way to spend the day!
After our hike back up to the car, another sunny drive home and some well-spent time over afternoon tea on the veranda, we all got ready for dinner and headed into town. Megan and Gavin introduced us to a great little pizza place where we all enjoyed company and conversation over a meal on the outdoor patio. The night sky lit up with countless stars, and as I looked around me over dinner that night, I realized that in the moment, there were few other places I’d rather be. We stayed up for a while after getting back from dinner, enjoyed more tea and cookies over wedding photos (Megan and Gavin were married 6 days after Jason and I, but we’ve seen each other so little since then) and then headed to bed for an early wake up the next morning.
In the am, Megan got up early to get us breakfast before we left for our day in Kruger. We were on our way by 5:45, and we headed East through more incredible landscape (and a brilliant sunrise) until we reached the entrance to the park at the Numbi Gate. By 6:45 we’d begun our safari–the first that we’ve taken just the two of us. It was so much fun to drive back through the roads that have become familiar, to “hunt” for animals and snap photos left and right as we joked and laughed together for hours. Driving through Kruger for an entire day is nothing like taking a 12 hour road trip through the country. Instead, it feels like an expedition–a great adventure where you never know what you’ll come upon next. We were fortunate to view lions, hippo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, African buffalo, crocodiles, baboons, monkeys, impala, numerous birds, warthogs, turtles, spotted hyena and an unbelievable number of elephants. It was extraordinarily hot in the park, and the sun blessed us all day long. By the time we left the park around 4:30pm, we were both tired, but grateful. Kruger proved to be another amazing experience, and we’d had so much fun with Megan and Gavin.
As I fell asleep on Saturday night, I was thinking about all of the ways that God had spoken to me throughout the weekend and realized once again that there is no limit to the majesty of God’s creation. Every little detail–from the graceful waterfall in Sabie and the blanket of stars that night to the curve of a zebra’s stripes and the puzzle-pieced neck of a lanky giraffe–everything was intentionally and carefully hand crafted by God. At the mercy of our maker, we spent Friday and Saturday absorbing every perfect and intricate design in our path, and it was delightful.
I am humbled to have been created by the same God who brought all of the heavens and the earth into being–to have been planned out so attentively, so deliberately. The weekend has come and gone, and I am left, struck by the love and creativity of our Father.
…then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good…and God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation…
This post was originally blogged on 11 March 2008 @ 1:30pm from Johannesburg, South Africa