Geri and I just returned from 7 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) area on the border of Minnesota and Canada. A motorized boat carried us deep into the wilderness. They picked us up 7 days later at the same location. There would be no emergency number for us or our family, no cell phone contact, and no ability to leave early. This was on Geri’s bucket list. She has been preparing since January and was thrilled. I was reluctant but following her, hoping for the best.
Nonetheless, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. God had a few things He wanted to teach me:
- His love really is found in nature. We canoed from campsite to campsite and portaged, i.e. carried our canoe and gear over land between lakes, as needed. For years Geri had been telling me to get my nose out of a book and look up to see God’s glory in nature. She was right. Something did finally “click” for me. A friend had sent me Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, the week before we left. It now made much more sense.
- Silence and Scripture really enable us to hear. On most days, Geri and I spent a couple of hours alone with God in the morning and then studied a passage of Scripture together. These long periods of silence and solitude, along with the slow time in Scripture opened me to hear from God in new ways. Seeds of insight came to both of us that we sensed pointed to God’s direction for our year. I wrote in my journal: “How could I possibly have gone into the year without this kind of extended silence?”
- God really has built rhythms into His creation. We went to bed at dusk and woke at sunrise. What else could we do? Everything is slow when camping – cooking, cleaning dishes, purifying the drinking water, setting up/taking down camp, brushing our teeth, etc. I left with a deeper appreciation of God’s many rhythms built into creation and a commitment to fast more regularly from social media.
- Growing in marital oneness really requires time and intentionality. Geri and I did everything together for that week – learning to read a compass, setting up pulleys so bears wouldn’t get at our food, hauling heavy loads across land, preparing meals, reading in our tents side by side in the pouring rain. We depended on each other in new ways and deepened our oneness as a result.
Our one week in the wilderness filled my cup to overflowing as if I had experienced a 3-month sabbatical. Yes, I’m now a convert to the revelation of God found in nature. And I’m already planning where we might go for next year!
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