Re-finding Beauty and Peace in the Wilderness

The Grand Canyon from near the Tuweep Campground, Arizona

I know that I have written about the power of the wilderness many times before.  The power to strip away the stress and the cloudiness and to bring us close to God.  But I’ve discovered it all over again, so I might as well write about it.

Rock formations in Angel’s Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

We took a trip a few weeks ago to Death Valley (mostly).  It’s been well over a year since we’ve taken a long trip into the wilderness, and I had no idea how much I’d missed it.  Hiking all day through peaceful scenery, sleeping all night under the stars… it was beautiful and rugged and a perfect place to lose oneself in God’s creation.

My sister joking around at the lowest point in North America, Death Valley National Park, California

But for once in my life, the stripping away of stress and modern-world-ish-ness did not come quickly.  I was immersed in nature, but I was still living outside of it, my brain still working overtime to figure out what to do if a flash flood came down the canyon, or which hike we should take next, or where we would sleep that night, or how I would present this hike on my blog, or if my GPS was working or not, or what we’d do if someone got hurt…

Climbing the “trail” at Hole in the Rock, Utah

Those are all valid questions that all need answers sometime.  But Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25a, 34).

Climbing up to Mono Pass, California

The stripping away of the worry took time.  In fact, it took about half of the trip.  But it was worth the wait – by the time it finally came and I could settle into simply enjoying life, we were on some fantastic trails.  I danced through the sunrise among wild rock formations, climbed up mining trails to breathtaking views from -282ft. to 14, 505ft., climbed snowy summits, and explored desert canyons with walls that towered a few dozen feet above my head.  If that wasn’t enough, we visited areas I’ve been dreaming about for a couple of years and had little hope we’d see in the near future – and they were just as glorious as I’d thought (actually, more beautiful than I’d imagined).

Hiking to The Tunnel in Arches National Park was on my mental bucket list… but not for this trip!

He makes all things new (Revelation 21:5) and all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  I hadn’t noticed my decline from the ability to be refreshed by the wilderness.  I’d been walking in the woods, seeing the beauty but not experiencing it.  It took a longer time of intensity in the wilderness to bring me back to the place where I could feel the wilderness again.

Views from Ingalls Pass, Washington

But now that I’ve experienced it, I can bring it back home.  This morning I took a quick hike in the woods before work.  A fresh snowfall had left every branch etched in white, and we were the first ones on the freshly-fallen snow.  It was beautiful.  It was glorious.  And I could feel with every part of me the glory and the majesty that God had put into His creation – the beauty that He was ministering to me through what He had made.

Snow and ice at Horsethief Falls, Colorado

I hope I don’t lose it again so quickly.  Feeding that need for beauty and letting God minister through His creation helps – but I might have to be a little more intentional than I’d originally thought.