I’ve taken my half year sabbatical from this blog and it is time to resume it. I love writing in it and the side of myself and my ministry it feeds, but I had to hunker down for a while to get things in order. As small a part of my life these entries represented, they were one thing I could set aside. So I did. It is time to pick it up again.
Last night I returned from the wilderness. Literal more than figurative. My wife, Kris, my two teens still at home and I drove up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on Monday and set our canoes in at Lake One east of Ely on Tuesday morning, heading for Insula Lake. It is late fall up there. All the leaves are down except for some golden birch. Temperatures were in the low 30’s at night and low 50’s daytime. It was not a luxurious experience, but it was the transition from fall to winter for one of the places on this planet I love the most – and it is good to be part of it. We all sensed that and it didn’t need to be spoken. We all knew that this wasn’t going to be a ‘fun’ trip, but expected it to be a ‘good’ trip. That means you are there for what the Boundary Waters really are, not what you want them to be. It was a good trip.
It was quiet in the northwoods. We usually saw no other people until the entry lakes as we exited on the weekend. Wildlife has mostly migrated too. Days were short, and when there was no wind, the silence could make your ears ring. It is a season of nature that must happen, but one we typically pass over preferring the more comfortable.
When we sat still, listened and watched we were rewarded. A Ruffed Grouse on a drumming log only meters from our campsite entertaining our ears with low frequencies we felt instead of heard. The bellowing of a herd of moose not far away. Granite formations hidden by summer’s high waters showing their faces and grabbing at the underside of our canoes. Lichens and rose hips and matchsticks of brilliant white birch alight with a golden flame of leaves. Bald Eagles soaring above the waters for a last few weeks before they freeze over. Campfires. Quiet.
I have to say I was proud of my teenagers who wanted to head to the Boundary Waters this time of year. Their maturity of spirit in relishing the bittersweet six days we had speaks well of them. They realized that there are not only things one must experience to have the things one prefers, but that if one has the stomach for it, one can be nourished by them. I spent time thinking about the seasons of our own lives. We avoid and try to pass over the painful and less comfortable times. I understand that and do the same. But while we travel those less climate experiences we can sit back, relax, look around, take in and be enriched by what is happening to us. It is all good.
Last night someone asked me how I experience God. Your post does a great job of eloquently describing my limited relationship. On good days, I find God in the colors of fall, the cool air, the gentle breeze. But there I days where we get frightening storms, gusty winds, downpours, bitter cold. Just thinking about what comes after the storm, after the dead of winter, makes the experience much different. Maybe that’s faith. Knowing that there is something wonderful waiting for us beyond the storm. Literally and figuratively.
The centerpiece of faith in Christ is resurrection. Life from death, through death, despite death, you name it. The point is, there is no new life without real death. Thus death is pretty important – in all its forms. It would be masochistic to say that we should therefore welcome, like or happily accept it. It is still death. But God’s action, sealed in Jesus, is that this isn’t the last word. God’s trick, if you will, is to not eliminate death, but to render it impotent.