In returning and rest
is your salvation,
In quietness and trust
is your strength,
But you would have none of it.
photo by Thomas Robinson
I’m not a fan of physical pain. Normally I avoid any form of self-inflicted suffering. Once a year, I load a large amount of weight on my back and hike many miles into a wilderness area far, from the nearest mattress or coffee shop. Don’t ask me why. My shoulders and legs shout at me, “Don’t be a fool! Turn around! Cease this ridiculous behavior!” I ignore the clamor and walk a few more miles. “Hey David, give us a break! Take that heavy load off your back. Sit down. Get a hold of yourself.” I press on. With miles to go I pay little heed to these inner voices. “Have a little common sense. Normal people don’t wear their house, their bed and their dresser on their backs. ” I take a few Advil tablets and keep hiking. Step after step, up the trail we climb into the high country.
A few years back, on day two of our adventure, we left O’Neil Creek Camp around eleven in the morning and had been moving in and out of the shade all afternoon. For the Olympic National Park, it was hot, in the low 80’s. Part of the trail followed a dry riverbed, filled with glacial silt. My soul felt like that riverbed, dry-mouthed, dusty, a bit gravelly and irritable. We rounded a bend in the trail and were greeted by a cool wash of air. If air had a color, I’d say this wind was emerald green, charged with soothing refreshment, a welcome reprieve from the long afternoon in the heat.
My aching shoulders relaxed. My heart started to race with the crazy delirium that comes from too much physical exertion when you’re out of shape. I spoke out loud, what I was thinking: “We just entered the
After shedding our packs, we sat down in dazed wonder. We drank from the cool waters of the
The world kept flying overhead. I heard dozens of jetliners speeding overhead that day, odd little darts of silver filled with busy people dressed in suits and ties, bound for big cities across oceans, where people in glassed in high-rise office buildings engage in high-speed commerce and every form of commercial profiteering. The
Sure, thousands of tasks are taking place minute by minute all across the valley. Ptarmigan mothers cooed at their young to stay close and watch out for predators as they walked right through our campsite. Bees collected nectar from sun up to sun down. There are always camping tasks to be done. Put up the tents. Build a fire. Prepare dinner. Roll out the sleeping bags. Stow away gear for the night.
Somehow, such tasks take on a different dimension in the
Call me a romantic fool. Consider the
These blog essays are about human being, not human doing. They are an odd assortment of invitations into a life of returning and rest, no R.S.V.P. required, welcoming you, nudging you, and encouraging you to return to that place of soul refreshment. Read these blog essays as signposts at the trailhead on the way to the