Crossing Boundary Waters

I am looking forward to a canoe trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) of northern Minnesota this July with men from Resurrection Lutheran Church. Part of our preparation is to read Andrew Rogness’ Crossing Boundary Waters: A Spiritual Journey in Canoe Country. Andrew was a Lutheran pastor who wrote about his four-day solo canoe trip in the BWCA and his personal discoveries.

Early in his trip he encountered a small narrow opening to a lake that had a swift current to it.

Enough water moves through it to form a clear “V” shape with swirling eddies and small whirlpools. If I try to paddle through it, I will be going against the current. This can be hard enough for two paddlers, but manageable. I have never tried it alone. Now with a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” attitude, I decide to try. (p. 26).

Over the next several paragraphs, Andrew described his three attempts to conquer this small rapids at the entrance to the lake. It becomes almost comical in his description of different positions and approaches. After his final approach, he paddled to the smoothly rounded granite bed on the east side of the narrows. As he sat on the rock, his feet dangling in the water, he reflected on his attempt to conquer this small section of the river.

I realize that I had entered the water to manipulate, dominate, and objectify it as though it were there so serve me. This image explodes into a maze of thoughts and insight, leaving my body on the edge of the rapids. . . . What I thought were the reasons for my coming here, I now see as symptoms of a deeper issue. I had intended to search for myself, unsure if my problems were with me or with others and my relationships with them. Maybe the problem is how I relate to myself. I hear words reverberating in some forgotten sanctuary, “Whoever would find their life will lose it. And whoever would lose their life will find it.” Words that were an utter mystery to me. Why do I remember them? Why do they make perfect sense now? (p. 28-29)

Canoe trips, summer hikes, or long car drives can be time for self-reflection and renewal. Leaving the familiar routines of daily life can sometime open cracks that allow the Holy Spirit to break into our lives in a fresh and powerful way. Times of reflections can help us understand our spiritual emotions and cultivate a healthier perspective on them.

I look forward to such encounters and contemplations during my travels. May God give you time for such spiritual reflection.

Lord Jesus, grant me your perspective of my life.

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