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Gary's Faith Walk

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Transition, respite and renewal

Signs of seasonal transition are all around us. The hint of gold on birch and mountain maple. Squirrels frantically dropping cones from high atop the Ponderosas. Colorful birds stuffing themselves on elderberries before long flights south. Earlier sunsets and much cooler nights.


We humans have our markers of transition, too. School buses back on the road. Weekend football and soccer games. The steadily lowering level of Lake Pend Oreille. And, yes, the taste of the last tomato nurtured lovingly against all the odds of the North Country.


Summer in all its predictable intensity is past. Me? I filled it with good things, mostly. Wonderful visits with family. Day hikes and kayaking. A wedding to mark the promise of new life together. Frivolous movies. A live concert by the river. A little home repair. Noxious weed pulling and brush clearing enough for days of back ache. All these things squeezed in around the demands of service and work.


Near the end of August though, I was much in need of respite and renewal from the self-generated demands of summer. Traveling with my friend, Sandy, that respite came in the form of the wildness of the Wyoming front range. The roar of the rapids on Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone backdropped hikes in the canyon and nights on the boulder strewn valley floor. Throughout the night, the full moon illuminated the landscape from crags to rushing water. At 11,000 feet, the majesty of Beartooth Pass offered high alpine plateaus, glacial lakes, snow fields and extraordinary views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains. Then, homeward bound, the Three Forks, Montana river confluence put me in the living stream of native, Lewis and Clark, and settler history. And, after it all, I was ready for autumn.


The man named Jesus understood the need for transition, respite, and renewal. After days and days of intense ministry, he told his disciples “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” (Mark 6:30)  Following their extensive travel, labors of love, teaching and conversation, he understood they could be renewed in a deserted place of rest and prayer. 


On other days, Jesus followed the same pattern of renewal himself. Can you imagine the pressures of teaching, feeding, and caring for “the five thousand?” As that day of loaves and fishes ended, he “went up on the mountain to pray.” (Mark 6:46) And, yet again after a day of highly focused engagement with sick, diseased, and demanding people, “At daybreak, he departed and went into a deserted place.” (Luke 4:42)


I know how much I was in need of a deserted place after the frantic pace of summer. I had packed it full, enjoyed it well and was so tired from it all. So in this seasonal transition, have you found your time and place for renewal? Has the chance for quietude and rest come your way? Are you ready for autumn? If, perhaps, the answer is “no,” maybe it is not too late to take time for a deserted place. Late huckleberries still beckon. Our alpine lakes aren’t yet ringed by ice. Reliable reports suggest the last fish still hasn’t been caught in the Clark Fork, Lake Pend Oreille, the Pend Oreille River, or Priest Lake. And, high above the Scotchman Peaks, the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, and the Selkirk Range call us to “come away” and “rest a while.”

By example, we have been shown a way to transition from a season of intense activity to the next season of our lives. Does this way call to you now?

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Author info

Gary Payton Gary Payton is on a Faith Walk that takes him to Russia, Eastern Europe and Sandpoint, Idaho

Tagged as:

hiking, wilderness, faith, seasons

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