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Wilderness as reminder

It is no wonder that so many of us feel full in the wild. God as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer is so evidently seen in nature. It is almost as if the wilderness is a not-so-subtle reminder of the character of God.

Appalachian trail

Photo by Josiah Gascho on Unsplash

I spent four summers of my life working at Holston Presbytery Camp in the small town of Banner Elk, North Carolina. For each of those summers, I had the opportunity to live into my call of nurturing, leading and teaching children and youth in the perfect mountain setting. We watched as the sky was painted in hues of pinks and purples as the sun rose over the lake each day. We spent most of our daylight hours on a trail or rock climbing or ziplining or swimming. Our nights were spent by the warmth of a campfire, trying to name the constellations, and singing all the camp songs we knew. And throughout all of it, we shared about God’s grace, the love God has for us, and the praiseworthy-ness of the creation that we were calling home that summer. Those were some of the most important summers of my life — and I was on staff! I am sure the summer was even better as a camper.

I have always felt the closest to God while roaming through creation. I even came outside to write this because how could I write about the beauty and the goodness of what God has created while sitting in my living room …  plus, it is currently one of those perfect sunny days so I couldn’t pass up the chance. I have always loved and taken any opportunity to be outside. When I was growing up, my mom had us hiking and camping nearly every weekend. We quickly learned to identify vegetation and bird calls. Unsurprisingly, the college I attended was in the mountains and gave me access to the woods every single day and let me connect with people who felt the same, which led me to Holston. When I graduated and left behind my role as a camp counselor, I chose a job in Wilderness Therapy where I spent much of my time over two years backpacking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine with an eclectic group of teenagers who were struggling with their mental health, and, again, sharing my love of creation and the God who set it all into motion.

Wilderness is a necessity. Any time I feel stuck, I go outside; and every single time I am met with some sort of reminder of how close I am to God, or really, how close God is to me.

Throughout the creation narrative in Genesis, as God creates, God calls it all good; we have the beginning of day and night and the sky and the sea and dry ground with vegetation. We have the sun and the moon, the living creatures in the sea, the birds in the sky, the creatures of the land, and us. We are even created in the image of God and called good. Then by the grace of God, we are given a task: to care for the earth. We are created in the image of a God who creates and calls us to care for creation. It is no wonder that so many of us feel full in the wild. God as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer is so evidently seen in nature. It is almost as if the wilderness is a not-so-subtle reminder of the character of God. The same God who loves me, redeems me and sustains me, does these things for the creation I am surrounded by; and it is all good.

John Muir has a quote that goes, “and into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” I think that is beautiful and so very relatable. Because each time I go into the wild, I find myself experiencing a deeper connection with my Creator, which nourishes my soul — and it is good.

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