Rest or… “Rest”?

Views down on Hidden Lake from the Mount Reynolds Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana

Views down on Hidden Lake from the Mount Reynolds Trail in Glacier National Park

A few weeks ago, I got back from a cross-country adventure.  I felt so happy, and I felt pretty much rested (minus a few hours’ sleep).  In some ways, the trip was so very relaxing – but we really didn’t do the traditional “relaxing” things.

Wading in the Great Salt Lake, Utah

Wading in the Great Salt Lake, Utah

For example, we hiked 130 miles in 16 days (if you count the two days we didn’t do any hiking at all because we were driving between hikes).  That’s averaging about 9.25 miles a day.

And then there were the 3-mile trails, like Leigh Lake in Montana's Cabinet Mountains Wilderness

And then there were the 3-mile trails, like Leigh Lake in Montana’s Cabinet Mountains Wilderness

Our evening camping was usually driving out to a campground or dirt road in the national forest, cooking and eating supper, gathering for prayer and maybe a bit of reading aloud in the van, and then sacking out in our sleeping bags – no s’mores, no stories around the fire (not that fires were allowed at that moment, anyway).

So it didn’t look like “rest” in the traditional sense of the word.  We kept moving.  We didn’t sit back and just enjoy the view from the viewpoints by the road.  But we somehow came home rested.

Waterfalls tumbling down into Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana

Waterfalls tumbling down into Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana

There’s something about the wilderness that seems to take away the stress and gives peace to a troubled heart.  Even doctors are beginning to realize the therapeutic qualities of the wilderness and give “prescriptions” to patients that require the stressed, sick individuals to go out and enjoy nature.

Biking on the Lehigh Valley Trail near Rochester, New York

Biking on the Lehigh Valley Trail near Rochester, New York

This feeling of peace and rest has been described as “magical”, “church-like”, and a host of more “trippy” words.  But as Christians, we know why it is that we can walk out in the woods and suddenly feel at peace.

Walking into Egypt toward Neon Canyon in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

Walking into Egypt toward Neon Canyon in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

When God created the world, His fingerprints, so to speak, were left on the things He made.  The Psalmist recognized this when he cried out, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful” (139:14).  Everything God made was and is wonderful.

Views of Mt. Baker from Skyline Divide, Washington

Views of Mt. Baker from Skyline Divide, Washington

In that wonderfulness, we feel at peace.  We feel the fingerprints of God all around us.  Even if we are physically working hard (climbing mountains is hard work!), there is a sense of rest in interacting with and appreciating what God has made.

Spires in Queen's Garden in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Spires in Queen’s Garden in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

So now we’re back in the normal day-to-day.  But the rest and wonder from the trip linger, and I’m thankful for that time of rest… even if our resting was more strenuous exercise in restful places than “resting”.