I have some friends in California who think I don’t get out enough. Occasionally, they get a plane ticket for me, and I fly out for a visit. One spring, they planned a lengthy adventure, roaming all the way from Disneyland in Anaheim, California, to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, with many stops along the way. We went to the Timberline Hotel, the Portland Rose Garden, and Crater Lake. I remembered doing a report on the lake when I was in elementary school. I wrote it on one of those pieces of school paper that had a space at the top to draw a picture. I still can recall the drawing I made and was looking forward to seeing the real thing.
Even in early June, the weather was chilly. We drove up to the entrance, a Parks Department booth with a Park Ranger. She leaned out and said there was fog in the area, and the lake was difficult to see. Some guests had decided against paying the park entry fee and left, planning to return some other time. Did we want to pay and go in? Well, yes we did, as we had reservations at the hotel on the rim of the caldera that holds the lake. So we paid and drove on in. As we maneuvered the winding road up to the lake, large snowflakes floated down. They fell and fell. Some cars were making their way down the road toward the entrance, but we trekked on up. Previous snowfall lay on and under the evergreen trees and grew deeper and deeper the higher up we drove. The car moved more and more slowly. The temperature dropped with every foot of elevation.
When we finally arrived at the Crater Lake Lodge, a medium-heavy snow was falling. Well, it seemed medium-heavy. I live in Central Texas. Any appreciable amount of snow fall looks medium-heavy to me. We checked in, negotiated for a better room (at the same rate) because people who had planned to come for a enjoyable lake-centered weekend holiday, were now unable to get here, due to the snow.
The lobby was full of bicycles, leaning against the walls. The cyclers, now extremely irritated, had planned a lovely, early-summer biking weekend. Now, not only had they not been able to bike, but in a short while, the weather was going to prevent them from leaving.
After we checked in, we chose a window table in the dining room, eager for a great dinner-with-a-view. My friends pointed out the window. “That’s where the lake is,” they said. Tall evergreen trees were loaded down with snow. Flakes were still coming down, thickly. The sky was gray, the ground was white, and there was a heavy, foggy mist lying on the ground. “Where’s that lake?” “Over there.” “Really?”
Dinner was tasty and the view so very lovely, even without a visible lake, that I went upstairs and phoned each member of my family. “We’re at Crater Lake. It’s snowing like crazy up here.”
“Did you pack for snow,” asked my very practical sister. No, alas, I had not packed for snow. Not at all.
“Did you bring your camera?” said my dad, an amateur photographer, who never went anywhere without a camera. Yes, I had indeed brought my camera.
I did take pictures. Lots of them. Photos I took that evening show an inch or so of snow on the arms of the patio rocking chairs. The next morning, that snow was four inches deep.
I took the elevator down to breakfast. A family got on. “Is this your first time to come to Crater Lake?” I asked the young daughter. She nodded. “Me, too,” I said. “They tell me there’s a big lake out there.” We both shrugged.
We spent the morning in the lodge’s Great Hall, enjoying the warming fire in the huge fireplace. We stretched our cold toes toward the flames and chatted and read. I felt like I was in a movie or a novel. (Hmm, I guess it was novel to me.) We waited until the last possible moment to check out.
A print of a painting of Crater Lake hung on the wall in our room at the lodge. Before we left, I photographed it. It’s the only souvenir I have of our visit. I believe there’s a lake out there. I just never actually saw it for myself.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (NRSV)
It’s an interesting allegory for me. Even though I haven’t actually seen that lake for myself, with my own eyes, I’m pretty confident it’s there. There’s no grand hoax going on, just for me. I have faith that there’s a lake. I have faith there’s a Jesus. I have faith there’s a God. I’m convinced.