Friday, February 12, 2016



Michael Schennum/Arizona Republic

While living in Arizona in 2013, there was a plane crash on the Superstition Mountain killing all aboard.  This mountain played a huge part in our lives in the desert, for it was in our view constantly, and we watched it's moods change with the light.  There were strange stories of men who braved the wilds of this mountain to find gold, and never returned.  But we desert-dwellers had never heard anything like this sad story of the mountain claiming multiple lives that summer night, leaving mysterious details unexplained.  This was a time when our faith, and that of others, was put to the test.

I have been surprised at how deeply the recent plane crash on our mountain has affected me.  Careful preparation by three adult males--the co-pilot and father of the children, the pilot and co-owner of the twin-engine prop plane with a wife and child of his own at home, and an airplane mechanic who was to be married next month--did not keep them  from "disappearing" into the craggy top of this monolith.  Their mother sent the three children flying off with their father (having recently been divorced) and these two other men to Safford for Thanksgiving, and I am haunted by the specter of a scene showing a lack of evidence that these six souls ever existed.  They took off from Mesa's Falcon Field with the light fading--what happened that they were not able to clear the top of the mountain, flying straight into it at 200 mph, may forever remain a mystery.  How painful can be the unexplained tragedies of life, when the WHY cries for an answer.

That night we actually did hear their crash, a muffled sound, unexplained.  I got up the next morning and saw in the dim morning light two bright lights hovering over the Flat Iron portion of the Superstition Mountain, thinking it a strange sight, only to learn later they were looking for survivors.  We had just heard of the tragedy on the radio, and that there would be no survivors in such a crash...

Today I awoke with a heart still sore for these victims, and those who mourn them, and found the mountain shrouded with vapor as if softening the scene and hiding the reality of their deaths.  Our God is often "wrapped in mystery", and this is one of those times when I must bow low to His omnipotence, trusting He remains a loving and merciful God no matter the brutal deaths that the mountain hides.  I choose to renew my mind with this eternal yet time-sensitive fact that He watches over each of His creatures, His eye even on the lovely doves and lowly sparrows which often fall to the ground here, victims of mirror-like windows.

Superstition Mountain Enfolded In Cloud

Thou art indeed wrapped in mystery, O Lord, and I choose to worship Thee in a world that has fallen from the perfection and beauty of Paradise.  What a wonder, that by taking the way of deep humility, You descended that we might ascend with You through the narrow way found in following that same pattern.  In following, we will be established on the Rock which is Christ: He does not move, nor is He capricious in His love for mankind. He Who provides shade from the noonday sun and the gift of Life everlasting watches closely, giving us the grace to trust Him in the shadows cast upon this world's landscape. 

"And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth... And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped."  (Exodus 34: 5-6, 8) 

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