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Experiencing The Grand Canyon With Your Eyes Closed

Taste and See that the LORD is Good over sunbeams and Grand Canyon, photo credit: Nate Loper

[Originally published as Blinded By My Sight]

I recently performed a sunset tour with a family who came to visit the Grand Canyon. On their reservation, they made a note to let us know their young son was blind. When I saw the note I thought to myself, this could be interesting—even quite a fun challenge!

Being a guide at the Grand Canyon, so much of what we do and teach is visual. There’s a lot of pointing to things and saying “Look at that!”

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In the 13 years I’ve been leading tours at the canyon, I can’t recall ever having someone who was blind and couldn’t see the beauty all around. As a guide, this presented somewhat of a puzzle—until I realized beauty is not strictly a visual thing.

While sight is often our most-used sense and we usually equate beauty to things we experience visually, there’s so much in this world God created which is beautiful beyond the measure of sight. With this in mind, I took on the task of making this tour special head on.

Looking around my office and through the house, I noted a number of things I’ve collected over the years. A daily reminder of my dear wife’s patience with me, I have filled numerous shelves and boxes with rocks, fossils, and artifacts from around the world. Scanning the room, I thought to myself,

What seven-year-old boy wouldn’t love to hold an actual dinosaur bone in his hand, hear the ringing of hard crystalline rock formed on Day 3 of Creation, or imagine the explosive, fiery inferno of Mount St. Helens while holding pumice from the eruption in 1980? (What adult likewise would remain unmoved?)

I thought on all these things in light of reinforcing what we teach daily about the flood in Genesis and subsequent catastrophic geology all around. This tour wouldn’t hamper me, but be a thrill!

I thought of all the other opportunities a hands-on Grand Canyon rim tour could provide, not only to this curious young mind, but for the thousands of others we welcome each year. Why haven’t I thought about bringing more “feel-and-tell” items on tours before? Is it because I was satisfied with simply showing? Was I missing out on so much more that God has crafted at this canyon?

I thought of all the sounds we hear—ravens, swifts, wrens, and wind.

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I thought of the smells in the air or at our fingertips—sage, juniper, and pine.

After messaging ahead of time with the parents of this family about the possibility and suitability of creating a “tactile tour” his mother said that would be amazing and he would love it. She said, “Nate, you get it!”

I’m not sure who was more excited, them, or me.

We spent the four hours of the tour that evening talking about the Grand Canyon and “flood geology,” but even more about experiencing God’s creative beauty in a place like this through what we hear, smell, and feel.

As a gift, I brought with me a piece of petrified wood I had collected in the field some years back. It was a special piece to me, but at this point simply sat on a shelf to look at occasionally—nearly lost in the collection of other curios. I’m sure in the heightened sense of his hands, it would be better afforded a treasured status than I had given it. I hoped this little object would be a good reminder of his Grand Canyon experience for years to come.

During our final stop to experience the sunset that evening, I walked out to the rim and sat in a quiet place, taking note of the many ways to engage this environment all around me. Feeling the fading warmth as the sun disappeared, while rolling a piece of limestone in my fingers and listening to the call of a canyon wren rise up from the darkening depths, I quickly realized there are so many ways to experience this canyon I had never really valued before. It was I who was blind this whole time.

–Nate Loper

P.S.– Click to listen to the sound of my favorite bird around here, the Canyon Wren.

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Written by Canyon Ministries

Canyon Ministries is the premier biblical creation tour guide for the Grand Canyon and beyond. Find out what Nate Loper and the team do and how to visit at Canyon Ministries.org

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  1. With so much of my work being visual (photography), I never really considered before what a challenge that might be. Sounds like you had a really good time. I’m sure your excitement increased the quality of the experience for him. William

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