Pictures from the Wilderness in Autumn

A week and a half ago the boys and I took off for a hike while Beth was away on a field trip. We had thought about going camping, but the nights were quite cold and their sleeping bags aren't much for warmth. So we took off to explore a nearby state park that we hadn't been to before. It was a cold, crisp day, but the hiking warmed us up a little. We're working on conditioning the boys for more outdoor times like these for future hopes of backpacking and going to the Boundary Waters. Someday.

I wish there were more weekends like those in the fall. We've been battling with colds and such recently. And many weekends get full with other things that work their way into the schedule. Plus there are all those outdoor jobs that need to get done yet (putting the garden to rest for the winter, raking the leaves, winterizing the house...). The autumnal season is way too short in the upper midwest.
But excuses can't be made. Nature is there. It beckons. 

I read somewhere recently that "wandering in the wilderness" is often used as a way of showing felt separation from God. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness for forty years, they were often trying to do their own thing and neglecting the very God who was leading them out of slavery and into the promised land.

And the wilderness can be that. I can be a place of trial, darkness, harshness. Jesus certainly felt some of that during his 40 day fast. Elijah and Elisha certainly felt that at times in their confrontation of pagan  gods and practices.  

But the wilderness is not just that. Most of the time I like to wander in the wilderness to reconnect with God. I feel Him most present there where I can see the wonders He has made. Not that I'm always mindful of His presence...but I do usually feel refreshed and renewed. Christ often went there to escape the pressures of the crowds and to find renewal in the prayerful presence of the Father.

The wilderness is important for those reasons. Whether we feel connected to God or feel like He's nowhere to be found, the wilderness--with all it's wildness and untamedness--is a place of beauty and wonder. We are connected to the dirt from which we were formed. We are reminded of our frailty, our weakness, our place in the world, as well as our power and the impact we have with each footstep we take.

And so I hope for more fall days to get outside and enjoy the wilderness. As Tolkien told us, "not all who wander are lost."

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renenwed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.” 
 - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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