Last weekend, I went for a bike ride to 37-Mile Lake with Eric. I didn't have my camera, so if you want to see a few pictures, check out Eric's blog.
It was good to get out like that. It had been far too long. If I go too long without having a good, long hike or bike ride, I start to get cranky. All of the stresses of life build up, bit by bit, and I am a much poorer father and husband for it. Every once-in-a-while, I need to get out and rejuvenate my spirit.
The ride wasn't easy at first. It's not that it's a technically difficult ride, but it took a little while to get into the groove on the rolling uphill climb. It didn't help that my mangled big toe was throbbing from an unfortunate incident a few days before when I tripped on a ukulele and stubbed it on the hutch, pulling off skin and folding my toenail lengthwise along my toe.
Up and up and down and up we went, following the valley up towards the end of the lake.
When we got as far as we could ride, we left our bikes behind and walked over the giant grassy hummocks to the shore of the tranquil lake. Small fish were hopping out of the water, catching bugs. Eric stopped, but I continued on, limping as I went, driven to see more of the lake than we could see from the end.
Needing to give my foot a break, I found a nice solid mound of grass and sat down. Then, I listened.
For someone who's used to the city, they would say that a place like 37-Mile Lake, away from combustion engines and the noises of people, is quiet. It certainly isn't. The buzzing of the mosquitoes, the chirping of birds, the jumping of fish, the rushing of far of streams, and the fluttering of trembling aspens are anything but quiet. The difference is that, in a city, all of the noises of traffic and building ventilation and construction and electricity combine to create a throbbing and squealing din. If you've lived in it long enough, you likely don't notice it - but it's there. When you're in a place like 37-Mile Lake, away from all the manmade noisemakers, the sounds of the bugs and birds and fish and rushing streams and fluttering leaves all combine to form a giant calming "hussssssssssssssh" - like a mother gently soothing an already sleeping child.
As I listened to the hush of the planet, I could feel myself relax. All of the concerns and frustrations and things that I had been holding onto but didn't really matter drained away. It felt good. I closed my eyes and, for no reason other than a feeling of complete contentment, I smiled.
When was the last time I did that?
Everyone has their own place to find peace and contentment, whether they go there or not. Some go to church. Others find it in their garden, or painting, or rebuilding a vehicle, or reading a book. I find it out there, in the wild places. That's where I rejuvenate my spirit. That is where I cleanse my soul.
That is my church.