Hauntings and Holiness at Little River

Log with min-waterfall - Olympic National Park

Log with min-waterfall, Olympic National Park

Posted by David-

Lenten Reflections

I took a hike up the Little River Trail today. My back has been causing me problems over the past month and sometimes a stout hike puts all the muscles back in place, or so I like to think. 

The Little River Trail is certainly a gem nearby to Port Angeles. After passing through the park boundary the big trees and ancient canyon begins. Many people visit only to hike up toward an old mine, but by continuing upstream instead of veering off up toward the mine, the cozy, mossy veneer and fern-filled riverine forest compels me onward with each bend in the river.

Usually, when I take a hike alone, I spend much of the hike thinking. I try to spend my time soaking in the sights, sounds and external sensations, but that’s easier said than done. Mostly I spend time dwelling on some thought, on some undone task, or on some notion that plagues me. I expect that most of us are no different which may be why most people don’t go on hikes alone! They would rather occupy their senses with some preoccupation or addiction so they don’t think about those sorts of things. But we must encounter our true self and our indwellings if we are to transform and brokenness be healed.

Like I’ve said so many times before, what we spin in our head, what we think about, all of those thing on which we dwell, affect the reality into which we tread. They are our hauntings. Our inner hauntings are outwardly manefest. It’s the fallen human condition. Our simple task is to allow God to transform our hauntings to holiness. It can’t be done by therapy. It can’t be done by trying to focus on the positive or on nothing at all. It can only be done through the blood of Christ.

I’ve found that when I go on hikes alone, it’s essential that I go with a clean conscious. If I don’t, I’m plagued by various thoughts that inhibit my ability to enjoy the beauty of the wilderness and they can even create worse problems. And this principle applies to everything in life, not just pleasure hikes: relationships, meals, working, relaxing, sleeping and dreaming. What is a clean conscious anyway? Is it really possible to feel that free? I say, yes, but only through Jesus Christ. On my own, I can’t. I’ve tried. Not even the super-Buddhist could do it.

By being in Christ, our conscious is interminably cleansed. But we have a role here. We must actively participate in his washing. First, we must allow him to wash us. Secondly, we must not participate in those things that cause our conscious to be marred. For me this means: cut those things that are addicting in my life, follow the law of the land, love those who are difficult to love, be steadfast and upright in my commitments and engagements, and many more practical daily actions that become habitual.

On today’s walk, I ended up going about 2 miles upriver. Until that point, I was dwelling mostly on Jesus and his work in my life and on the beauty of the valley. I was amazed at the softness of one particular red huckleberry plant and its new bell-shaped flowers that hung like tiny white ornaments on the thin evergreen branches. The rush of the river and the sparkle of sunlight were other delights. It wasn’t until I started spinning a work-related compulsion that I stopped my upward ascent and turned around.

Even on the return hike, I was able to enjoy my surroundings a bit. For one, cold water always seems to pull me out of my hauntings, whether I swim, drink or just wade in it. But today I just splashed through it at the river crossings. My recommendation for any temperate forest hiker is to always wear sandals. It makes river crossing easier and a fresh, cold foot washing is certainly a joy.

Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.

John 13: 8-11

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