I hated to leave paradise. I know how Adam and Eve must have felt.... Our three days at the New River Trail cabin came to an end. I kissed my dear daughter Asherel, her husband Levi, and the adorable husky pup Ragnar goodbye, and they headed home. I still had a whole day before I had to head home. So I first went for a walk as the sun rose. Carl Jung said that in healing one's psyche, it was important to be useful, and to surround oneself in beauty.
Well of course! God never creates without a purpose. The beauty of the world is meant to be inspiring, restorative, and for our enjoyment.
After my walk, I headed to the river with my kayak. The kids had kayaked the day before while I puppy-sat. Now it was my turn. I launched, and headed upstream. I really really wanted to do the Level 2 rapids downstream, but I was very afraid. So I kayaked the smooth water upstream from the launch point. Three Bald Eagles soared over me, completing my bucket list of joyful encounters.
After kayaking about an hour, I came upon small rapids. It was not easy beating upstream to get around them, but I did, which gave me the opportunity to now practice on little rapids.
I made my way quickly back downriver, and came to the take-out point, right before the Level 2 rapids. I wanted so badly to have the courage to do those rapids...but just didn't. I almost did, having done the small rapids upstream successfully, but fear overcame me. So I pulled up to shore, about to get out of my boat, when I saw some nearby people in tubes bobbing on the river. They hesitated, and then with a determined shove, shot into the rapids.
Without giving myself time to chicken out, I turned my boat into the current. As the strong current grabbed the boat, there was no turning back. I was now going to do a series of Level 2 Rapids, ready or not.
The video is of the first set of rapids, which were very exciting, but not nearly as big as the second set. I didn't get a video of those. I was frankly TERRIFIED. I didn't know which path through the frothing water was the best course, and ended up going over a small waterfall. I took on some water, but didn't capsize. On to the next waterfall. More water, but still upright! I finished the rapids, and coasted to the take-out point, exultant, with heart-rate way over a sustainable level.
I stood on shore, looking back at the rapids. I did it!
I had strapped my kayak cart to the back of the kayak, just in case I somehow mustered the courage to do the rapids. With no one to shuttle me back to my car, I was on my own. Now, I plopped my kayak on the cart, and pulled it the mile back to my car. I could not stop smiling. I had been terrified, and certain this was something I would not dare to do...and then I did it. Before I went, I told myself, "If I don't do it now, I may never have another chance...and I might always regret that I didn't have the courage to do what I so wanted to do." I am sure there is a spiritual lesson there.
For one thing, had I not practiced on the smaller rapids, I don't think I would have had the courage to try the larger ones. God sends trials not to confound us, but to prepare us. The more we conquer, the more we learn the power of His presence with us in the midst of the struggle, and the more we trust Him to accomplish the work He has set before us.
I'd been on the water two hours, and was ravenous. Fortunately, I had a cooler filled with food which I'd brought to the cabin. Perfect for a picnic in the shade, looking out over the old train that had once traveled the path now made into a biking/hiking trail at this wonderful state park. Carl Jung would have approved. So much restorative beauty.
Having finished my lunch, there was still enough time to go on a final bike-ride. Tossing my picnic trash in the car, I headed off on my folding bike, back down the shady trail flanking the river. I spooked an owl, a skunk, and some woodchucks. The summer crowd has not yet descended and I was almost completely alone on the trail. It gave me lots of time to reflect on God's goodness and the beauty of His creation. I also thought about overcoming fear, and living as if today is the last day you have...because it might be.
I came across many interesting sights, including this old "stone crusher."
By the time I had made it back to the car, I had spent the day logging a 4-mile walk, a 5-mile kayak, and a 17-mile bikeride. As I put the bike in the car, next to the kayaks, I said, "I'm tired."
But it was a good tired. A tired that says every blessed moment of the day God has given me has been used to the fullest. My batteries are recharged. I am ready again to do battle. I drove home with visions of sweet puppy kisses, my daughter's laughter, frothy rapids in a winding river, soaring eagles, and a bike path speckled with patches of sun beckoning me so strongly that I almost couldn't turn back towards home.
There were messages on my phone. Calls I had missed. There was no cell phone reception at the cabin and so for three days, the outside world vanished for me. There was just me, God's creation, and God. I really hated to leave paradise.
Carl Jung also said, "When the darkness grows denser, I would penetrate to its very core and ground, and would not rest until amid the pain a light appeared to me, for ‘in excessu affectus’ [in an excess of affect or passion] Nature reverses herself."
I don't know what Jung's relationship with Jesus was, but I found his words to be very similar to what Jesus says about light and darkness. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(John 8:12) The Bible tells us the way out of darkness is to seek the light, and that light is Jesus. Colossians 1:13 tells us He has delivered us from the domain of darkness.
The presupposition in all the Biblical verses about light is that you only seek the light after being in darkness.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. (Isaiah 9:2)
My thoughts have dwelt for a long time on this, since I am emerging from a very dark tunnel in my life. The only way I made it through the blackness closing in around me was to keep my eyes on the speck of light, of hope at the end of the tunnel.
No one wants to go into the darkness, but it is bearable if we can see light at the other end.
And when we emerge, we are in the light as He is in the light.
...that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.1 Peter 2:9