I took my niece camping this weekend. We spent some time listening to afternoon showers tumble on the roof of our shelter up on the bluff. We spent some time hiking along swampy trails past vernal pools, sweating under head-nets and swatting at mosquitoes. We spent some time paddling a blue canoe on a lake with little ripples made by the gentle winds.
There are two things that wilderness offers the human spirit; two things that I can do as a wilderness guide. One thing: I can take comfortable people to wilderness places to wrestle, strengthen, and grow. Another thing: I can give worn out people the space to ground in places of rest, retreat, and release.
As a guide I can decide which of these I wish to emphasize, but ultimately if I’m doing my job with the appropriate amount of surrender, the experience will meet each person where they most need meeting.
And seldom does one portion exist without the other. I think this is true of life as much as it is of wilderness: There is a kind of relief that comes only by comparison to the struggle that precedes it. Renewal of self, for the sake of the world, is found in exploring the dynamic relationship between wrestling and resting.
The experience of formation exists somewhere at the intersection of the itch of mosquito bites and the way that sunbeams pierce through the forest canopy after a summer storm.