The Continental Divide of the Americas, or merely the Continental Gulf of Division or Great Divide, is the name given to the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas, that is, the continental divide that separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean.
I suppose I've probably been aware of the Continental Divide since I started learning about geography in school, but I don't think I've been aware of the sort of majesty that occurs within the Divide until this year.
I was listening to the radio one day, it was K-Love on this particular day, and the DJs were talking about the Continental Divide and the ways in which it mirrored how people of faith often found themselves; we can grow up in a community of faith with another person, or a group of people, and we will find ourselves in the exact same place at the exact same time and with one event, in a split second, we will diverge from where we once stood together. The water is at once a united body and in seconds will move toward the Pacific or toward the Atlantic. I found myself considering the multitude of reasons this would happen - is it the direction in which the wind blows that moves the water one way or another? Is it a death or a misstep that takes a person of faith from the path they are on into a diverged arena?
Let's take this concept and remove the faith part. It is quite possible that in this very moment, you and I are in the same arenas of our lives - 25, college graduate, single, and hard working; what will happen tonight or in the early hours before the sun stretches her arms over the hill that will take one of us out of that particular game?
As I completed my drive that morning I thought about the Continental Divide and how, whether anyone else may think of it this way or not, it was this sort of mystical, natural happening that most people probably never gave much thought to. And then I realized . . . our entire lives are stretching over, on, and around continental divides everyday; there are the physical Continental divides that exist that people may live near, but we are continually detouring our lives around emotional continental divides.
Growing up I remember my mom saying she would never forget where she was when JFK was assassinated; in those moments it seemed an odd thing to remember, but then my generation experienced 9/11 and it all became so clear; now we had a specific moment in history in which we will never be allotted the opportunity to forget where we were when the sky went black while the sun still shone. Eight grade American History with Mr. Greher was never the same. This was a continental divide. Up until that point I had never been confronted with tragedy and for days, weeks even, after, I felt this impending devastation over lost lives of which I wouldn't know existed had the attacks not happened in the first place. Not only will I never forget that day because of what it meant for our country, but I will never forget it because it was in those quick minutes that I realized life was not untouchable and that everything can change in a matter of seconds.
Everyday I find myself faced with the opportunity to learn something new, gain wisdom, teach a lesson, show someone compassion. Everyday I am on the precipice of a divide - which way will the water flow? Which direction will my choices lead me? What sort of person will I become as a result of this divide?
Growing up I remember thinking if this person isn't in my life forever I don't know what I'll do and then I grew up some more and in some instances, those people weren't a part of my life anymore, and it was sad and it was hard and I still don't always understand it, but if those people hadn't made an exit, the divide would have gone a different way and I wouldn't be who I am in this moment.
Change scares me - I am not one to shy away from admitting that, but in the past year and a half I have realized that if change didn't occur, if divides did not transpire, then I would be this stagnant version of myself in my life; I wouldn't have the friends I have now, I wouldn't have the beliefs that make me who I am, I wouldn't be the type of friend, daughter, sister, or mentor that the people around me have come to expect.
As I type this there is a continental divide moving one body of water into two and there are moments looming in my future that will both make me and break me. But that's the beauty of it, right? If nothing changed, if nothing transformed, if nothing was broken - there would be no growth, there would be no revelation, there would be no healing.
The Continental Divide. The Great Divide. These moments of tragedy, of trial, of devastation - they diverge into greatness. How these moments divide us? It's our choice.