Rob and I talked for a long time about how we wanted to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, which was August 19. We finally decided to take a trip to Glacier National Park and several national parks in the Canadian Rockies with our favorite travel company. We had very high expectations for this trip and some concern about spending such a special day with strangers, but we were not prepared for what happened!
From the very first moment, we knew it was going to be amazing. The tour director seemed like an old friend, the group quickly became like a bunch of old friends, too, and day after day, we marveled at the beauty of God’s creation all around us: aqua lakes, water falls, many, many glaciers, huge mountains, and gorgeous flowers everywhere! We hiked a canyon, went white water rafting, drove the “Going-to-the-Sun Road in the “Red Jammers,” had a gondola ride up Sulfur Mountain, and on and on. The only hitch was smoke from the dozens of fires throughout the region sometimes shrouded the view a bit.
Because of the smoke, our tour director decided to switch one of the highlights of the trip, the Columbia Icefields, to later in the week, hoping it would clear out by then. We later discovered that, because the smoke was so bad, the tours were stopped on the day we originally were to have gone.
On the evening of the 18th, there was some much-needed rain. The morning of our big day, I got up, and with high hopes, opened the drapes and went out on the balcony of our room. There before me was Edith Cavell, the highest mountain in the Athabasca Range, clear and bright, set ablaze by the morning sun. It was going to be a beautiful day! For the first of several times during the day, I was moved to tears. We soon went out to the bus for the drive to the Icefields, but no one was getting on board! Even our director and driver were standing outside, gazing at the glory in front of us, and we heard for the first of many times that day, “This is a gift!”
We finally got on the road, our director made the usual morning announcements, and then she put on some music so we could quietly enjoy the glory of the drive. As I sat there, marveling in the beauty and reminiscing over these 50 years, wondering how they could have gone by so quickly, the song, “This is the day that the Lord has made,” came to me. In tears again, I whispered to Rob what I was feeling, and since we were, somehow, seated in the front row, for the first time during a tour with assigned seats, I leaned forward and told our director how blessed I felt. In tears, she responded that there was no explanation other than this day was a gift. Those words were repeated again and again throughout the day. Later that evening at the group dinner, our director said that in her 23 years of doing this tour, she had never experienced a more perfect day.
How do I explain that? We all felt something very unusual happened that day. I am not so conceited that I would claim God created this perfect day just for Rob and me, but we do continue to rejoice in it, be amazed by it, and thank God for the gift of this day God made.
Written by Bettina Basham Sandford