If you ask people about their first “God” moment, there’s a good chance it won’t have happened in a church. More often, you’ll hear about a mesmerizing sunset over a vast sparkling ocean, or of lying under a night sky full of a billion stars, or a solitary walk in a quiet forest, or standing beside a loud, cascading waterfall! Moments when a sense of awe, mystery, and gratitude have overwhelmed them. Moments when they felt small, but strangely, unconditionally loved. Moments that spoke to them of something bigger at work in the world. Moments that were holy.
It’s these sacred moments that authors Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer set out to capture in their deeply spiritual and inspiring new national parks devotional, America’s Holy Ground: 61 Faithful Reflections on our National Parks, available now from Chalice Press and wherever you buy books. This unique collection of contemplative reflections – and stunning photos – connecting place and a sense of the sacred speaks to the many ways God shows up in our lives, and how we might be called to respond. America’s Holy Ground is a gift to the soul, a powerful reminder we are connected to something much greater than ourselves in the world, and how that relationship changes us. A reminder of our Creator’s deep and wide love for us imbued into every rock, canyon, and leaf.
As Brad and Bruce noted in the introduction, while they contributed their own photos, this book wouldn’t have been nearly as beautiful without the public domain photographs provided by the National Park Service, which constitute about 80% of the book’s art. It’s perhaps the most beautiful book Chalice Press has ever published.
Whether you’ve visited dozens of parks, or have yet to explore your first one, America’s Holy Ground will enrich your journey and invite you into prayer, contemplation, and wonder in these sacred spaces. All of your favorites are in there – Zion, Grand Canyon, Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah – but half of the fun of this book is turning the page to discover a park you’ve never heard of! (Who knew there were 61 national parks?)
You don’t have to be in a national park to enjoy the book, either. The introduction suggests several ways to enjoy the book, whether you’re in a park on your own or with your family, or if you’re reading in your neighborhood park or the coziness of your own couch.
Wherever you read it, the outdoors can be powerful experiences of God, of the holy. We hope America's Holy Ground leads you to find and deepen your own holy moments in all of the wild spaces you encounter. Happy travels!
Deborah Arca is Chalice Press' Marketing and Sales Director.
Note: Because Brad is the president and publisher of Chalice Press, to avoid a conflict of interest, other staff members and a member of the board of directors were involved in the key decisions about the book.