During youth, I lacked the understanding of more than basic biblical concepts. I did not pray, nearly so often, as I do now. I lacked the maturity and conviction to live a life based on the real truth. My truth was based on whatever was happening at that point in time. Confirming my beliefs and convictions over time has certainly been a tumultuous journey and a blessing. I am eternally grateful for the divine presence that continually lights the path before me.
I have had the good fortune of adventuring in some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. Mountains constitute my cathedral. They offer the shelter and sustenance required for a truly religious experience. Rocks, trees, bushes, grasses, soil, and wildlife make up the alpine’s congregation.
I feel emotionally cleansed as I explore on self-made paths through canyons and valleys. The world in the distant landscape appears to grow ever smaller. The sounds of a living forest are reminiscent of a choir accompanied by a symphony. A tapestry of mountain wildflowers displays colors as brilliant as any church’s stained-glass mosaic these eyes have ever gazed upon.
Mountain streams baptize with their cool, crisp, and clear water. These streams originate from pure white fields of melting snow. As they flow and join other tributaries, they become a metaphor for what is most important. A single stream transforms into a mighty river, and then eventually, fills an ocean; much as one and then twelve transformed into a multitude.
I encourage those who spend time in the high country to find a solitary place. Take a few minutes, hours, or days to absorb the surroundings. Enjoy the serenity of your environment and listen to your inner voice. Let free the inhibitions that bind your soul and mind. Experience a religious moment like you have never done before. Be assured, you will feel the presence of the Almighty and later thank him for being there with you…the whole time.
Through the smoke and morning fog, I am able to see a dusting of frozen crystalline precipitation on the nearby ridge tops. Those of us living in the Northwest United States are happy for a break in atmospheric conditions. The past two days have brought a much anticipated and welcomed respite to the high temperatures and arid conditions that have plagued the area over the past several months in the places we call home.
One probably wonders why many choose to dwell in remote areas where fire, smoke, and weather are often punishing and detrimental. Is it the beauty of proximate vistas? Is it the solitude afforded by living in rurality? I believe it is more complex than that. Some are driven by chance circumstance. Others are driven by greed or birthright. The majority, however, are drawn by a calling to live in areas where they are able to pursue the aspects of life that bring them the most satisfaction.
Without taking risks or following intuition, one may miss his/her calling. Subtle or subdued, an individual’s calling may be difficult to ascertain. Fear of failure is a formidable force in personal decision making processes.
I encourage you to take a chance and follow your instincts. Let your calling be your guide. As the old phrase goes: nothing ventured, nothing gained. You may be missing out on the adventure of a lifetime if you remain idle and let the fear of failure dictate your actions. Inhibitions can be overcome. Life is too short to let them be your restraints. Staying static should always be your last option.
If you are having a difficult time making a decision right now, I encourage you to go for it. The regret of not doing so will be far more damaging than failing. Point your personal compass toward your goals. Determination and hope will be enough to start your journey. The experience gained along the way is nearly always the most rewarding part of the achievement. Destiny awaits.
Briefly before impending dusk, my eyes are drawn to the western horizon. The last of the day’s golden rays of sunshine are broadcasting over the landscape. I am enthralled. The colors are bold and vibrant. Surely, a greater power paints the canvas before me. Humbled and honored, I feel immersed in GOLD.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
As the sun’s rays shined down in the early hours of dawn, the top of the water glistened. It was as if it held a million tiny mirrors just within a stone’s throw. The waves gently slapped the stern-side of our boat like nature’s metronome. My god, how I’ve missed that.
We had not been on the water all summer. Between starting a new job, moving, unpacking, and other miscellaneous circumstances, the timing had not been right. The desire, however, was unyielding. A yearning to be there was taking forefront. It was becoming an obsession.
The water calls to me year-round. I respect the life-giving resource it provides. I also respect the life-taking potential it possesses. Throughout my life, I have had an affection for water. Whether it be small streams or the ocean, I love the tingling of all senses when in, on, or near water. It’s transformative properties, though well-studied, are enchanting when looked at by the eye of an outdoors enthusiast.
Audrey and Tyler were noticeably quiet. I believe, they like I, were absorbing the tranquility of our serene surroundings. I don’t believe anyone could have been in a more ideal place at that moment in time. Much planning and preparation were now being rewarded for the effort. They each contributed to helping me fulfill this desire. As the bow of our vessel split the water before us, I secretly hoped they were enjoying the moment.
Looking into where the water was calm, I saw a reflection. The young boy with endless dreams and an uncertain future was not there. Instead, a much older person was looking back at me. The water did well to hide the wrinkles around his eyes. The water did well to expose his smile.
It was a beautiful day to be on the water.
Desultory waves of wind sweep over the golden blades of grass causing it to vacillate. As temperatures continue to soar, the aridity present in the summertime air is palpable. The pungent aroma of smoke is subtle, yet still detectable without much discern. The degree of haziness is dependent on the day and prevailing winds. The valley we call home has, so far, been spared. The areas in contiguous regions, unfortunately, have not been as fortunate. Wildfire is a powerful and deadly adversary.
A heartfelt thank you to the women and men who put themselves in harm’s way fighting wildfires.
I have taken a hiatus from writing the past few weeks. A change of scenery and everything that entails has consumed a majority of my time and energy. My commitment to the keyboard was yearning, yet, my commitment to getting settled in the Clark Fork Valley in Western Montana took precedent. My concentration focused on getting moved in and unpacked. I offer apologies to all of those who follow and faithfully read my posts. Thank you for your patience during this transition.
For one who likes change and diversity, I must admit that moving never gets easier. In fact, each new move has become increasingly more difficult. In addition to the accumulation of material things gathered over time, I have also added friendships and memories. It is becoming more difficult to move away from those relationships. Those bonds exceed the confines of cardboard boxes. They consume valuable space in my heart and mind. Yet, optimism gives me the comfort of knowing more friendships and memories will be forged in a new and fresh environment.
The stress brought forth by moving can often take a toll on familial relationships. Thank the good Lord for blessing me with an understanding and compassionate wife. Words hardly describe my appreciation of Audrey’s full-hearted commitment to uprooting our lives and starting anew. Without her support and effort, I would certainly be lost in the wilderness.
The mountains surrounding my new location are rugged, yet, inviting. The countless nearby waterways and trails offer infinite opportunities to explore and investigate. Nearly every conversation I’ve had with locals ends with a desire to see what they have described or experienced. Positive thoughts overwhelm the stress of re-establishing a home base. I wonder how I will ever prioritize the time to do everything I want to do?
New surroundings come with new responsibilities. This profound thought is not lost on me. I want to do well. I want to live well. New relationships and memories will be added to my interpersonal collection. They are not in place of, but rather, in addition to those already there. The next chapter offers an opportunity to do good things. I hope to leave a mark that suggests it was always meant to be.