After over an hour’s drive from the already remote campsite where we were staying, we arrived at Goblin Valley State Park, Utah. I had fond memories of coming here with my parents when I was a child, exploring the maze of hoodoos and climbing on the strange, goblin-shaped rock formations, but I had never taken my own kids here until now. It was just too far away from absolutely everything to make for a convenient travel destination.
We got out of the car and stood at the overlook.
My youngest frowned at the view in front of him. “Why did people make this out here?” he asked.
“People didn’t make it,” I told him. “God made it.”
“Jesus made it?” His mouth dropped open in shock. “Why did Jesus do that? What is it for?”
When my kids complain about objectionable features of nature — like bees, or snakes, or rain at a ball game — I can usually explain how important such things are to our fragile ecosystem. But I was at a loss. What was Goblin Valley for? I had no idea. And I hadn’t really intended to blame Jesus for it. My words had been flippant, not theological.
My son kept talking. This place was too far away and too hot and way too weird. Jesus should have known better.
His brow furrowed. What was he to think of a god who could produce such flawed design? How could he reconcile the thousands of acres of nonsense spread out before him in the vista with the perfect Jesus he had been taught about at church?
I tried to course-correct. Not theology; geology. I tossed some science in his general direction: erosion and plate tectonics and stuff about the water pocket fold that I had heard in the informational video we watched at Capitol Reef National Park the day before.
My son looked thoughtful.
“Maybe Jesus made it here because there’s no room for this in the city,” he said.
Crisis of faith averted? Probably not, but either way, we moved onto the trail and descended into Goblin Valley.