One of the stops my husband and I made during the first month of sabbatical was Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Grand Prismatic Spring was on my husband’s must-see list, so here was our view from above!
The range of colors is fascinating. Could it be created by different chemicals in the water or mineral deposits on the edge of the pool? What’s really going on is much more complex than that.
The colored bands around the edges of the spring are actually created by an entirely different ecosystem from anything I was taught about in school growing up! Each color represents a separate thermophile, or heat-loving microorganism. The pool can reach temperatures of 189°F near the center to 131°F around the edges. I don’t think any of us would be comfortable living in those conditions, but there are a few organisms that make it work.
In the center of the pool, at temperatures of up to 189°F, there isn’t much life . . . but there is life! Life here mostly consists of organisms that eat inorganic compounds like hydrogen gas. Mmm, mmm, good…
The first band of color on the outer edge of the blue (where temperatures are in the 165°F range) is created by a cyanobacteria called Synechococcus, which makes food using chlorophyll in photosynthesis. In the summertime it looks yellow, but in the winter it looks more blue-green. What is going on?? Synechococcus actually prefers cooler temperatures and less harsh sunlight. To protect itself in the summertime, it gets a kind of summer tan! How crazy is that?? It has a secondary pigment, or carotenoid, that is produced under conditions created from high summer sun intensity, and looks yellow. The carotenoid takes the harsher wavelengths, and passes the energy from them on to the chlorophyll, which in turn creates food. In the wintertime the extra protection isn’t needed as much, and the Synechococcus looks a bit closer to its normal blue-green color.
As you follow the rings away from the center and the temperature of the water cools, you can see different colors produced by additional strains of cyanobacteria, each of which uses a different type of carotenoid as sun protection.
Life in the hot springs of Yellowstone wasn’t even discovered until 1966, and it is believed that there are still more species to be identified. Scientists are in the process of gathering information and learning about how these organisms live in such harsh environments. They don’t have all of the answers yet, and they haven’t come close to knowing it all!
No matter where you are in your faith journey, you haven’t reached the end. Just like the scientists studying Yellowstone hot springs, you don’t know it all yet — there’s more! There’s more truth in the Word to discover, more tuning of our spiritual ears to hear our Shepherd’s voice, more learning to live in the light no matter our circumstances, and deeper faith to lean on when our own strength is weak. There are more ways to learn how to love, how to worship, how to serve, how to give, and how to live a life of compassion for those around us.
But above it all, there’s more of our Heavenly Father to discover. He is more than our mortal minds can conceive . . .
“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9NLT),
. . . but He wants to be known by us!
“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
There’s a knowing because someone told you something or you read it somewhere, and then there’s a deeper knowing based on personal experience. Do you know your Father? Do you know his unfailing love and his goodness?
“Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5)
I can say without a doubt that I personally know God’s love, goodness, faithfulness, strength, joy, peace . . . and so much more. But I’m not done yet! I know there’s still a lot waiting for me to discover.
Are you searching for him with all of your heart? Maybe you’ve gotten tired of seeking, and become satisfied with how far you’ve come, and all that you know and have experienced. Perhaps you think there’s not much left that you haven’t found out already. My friend, don’t give up now! There’s so much more!
You can read more about the Grand Prismatic Spring at Smithsonian.