“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
~Robert Louis Stevenson
Two parts of an adventure are the best. The beginning, when I’m fresh and excited. And the end, when I’m exhausted and delighted. There’s all the good stuff in the middle, too, of course. But the anticipation and reflection are the really, really good stuff.There’s almost nothing I love better than setting out on an old two-track or faded foot path, or leaving the trail altogether and just wandering. I love the mystery of what lies around that next bend, or over that next hill, or through that stand of trees. So much of our life is mechanically predictable, or we attempt to make it that way. Society tells us to make it that way. We try to set our routine, to know what we’re doing and where we’re going. We like being in control, being efficient, being safe. We like predictable. And that’s good for the functioning of society, and good for making the most efficient use of one’s time. But sometimes it drives me absolutely crazy. Because sometimes I just want to not know what will happen.
Because there is that part of the heart that longs for adventure, newness, and a little bit of risk. There is that hunger for not knowing, for the thrill of the unknown delight. When a person sets out on an adventure, as much as we might think we know how it will go and what will happen, we don’t know. We are taking a risk, however small, in that beyond that next bend, what is there is utterly unknown to us.
Ah, yes. Those first steps of an adventure are glorious. And then there’s the end of the trail. All the beauty and exhilaration still rings in my mind. I’m sweat-soaked, tired, and footsore. I’ve seen what was around that corner, I’ve looked over that hilltop, I’ve gazed into the valley, stared hard at wildflowers, and watched the sunlight filter through the trees. I’ve felt the heat, breathed deep of the clean air, and basked in the cool damp under the trees. I’ve tasted of the goodness of Creation. I’ve listened to the quiet, which is the hush and song of nothing…and everything. The untouched landscape is matchless in beauty. And sometimes it is those tiny delights that are the best: the reflection of the sunlit trees in a puddle, or a glowing flower, or the lights and shadows in that certain place where the hills meet just so, or where the trail bends out of sight. I’m forever thankful to live in a place where God’s beauty and glory and creative might are so evident, and so easily evident. I don’t have to hunt for them. His marvels aren’t covered over with concrete, or constantly interrupted by power lines and apartments and shopping centers. All I have to do is to look, to gaze with eyes desiring to see. When I see so much beauty and my heart is stirred, it is as if Jesus is saying softly, “Remember me, I’m here.” May my heart never harden to His attributes seen so clearly in His Creation. May they never become commonplace, but always mysterious and wonderful.The new trail, the new peak, or something as small as that new wildflower….or the familiar trail, familiar peak, or familiar wildflower….those are delights that speak to my soul. I want to feel deeply, to ache with the beauty of God’s Creation. I want to sweat, to be sore and tired and renewed.
In short, there’s nothing quite like being footsore and fancy free.