Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
Posted on 06/29/09 at 12:32 PM
I spent the past week with Wilderness Wind, a Mennonite camp that outfits and guides groups into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. I was there with five other men from Living Water. We spent four nights and five days canoeing through beautiful lakes, rivers and pine forests. It was a wonderful space completely unplugged from the digital world and the pressures and control of time. We ate when we were hungry and went to sleep when we were tired. Here are a few of my journal entries from the week to give you a window into my time.
Monday, June 23
I sit on a rock shelf 10 feet above Lake Stewart and 20 feet from the shore. Tim and Nicholas sit hunched over the fire pit, blowing on the flame. Josh is below me by the lake. The view is a spectacular 200 degree vista of water, sky and trees.
A chipmunk races across the lake right behind me and then sits down 2 feet away from me as if to say, what are you doing here? A dragon fly hunts just above the bush to my left, hovering and dodging to a rhythm only it can see. The sun is still well above the horizon, but the trees around me are already golden in its light.
I wrap myself in the sound of the cricket and the chirping frog, a summer song played on the legs and throats of a thousand tiny things.
Wednesday, June 25
On Top of the Island
Massive granite boulders
lie dreaming of glaciers
that brought them up from the deep
wakened from millions of years of slumber
beneath the crust
Today they wear crowns of ferns, lichen, and pines
growing from layer upon layer of decomposing needles;
ancient troll kings in quiet repose
Back at the top of the island by Tiger bay. This morning we walked Warrior hill where Ojibwa boys became men by running from top to bottom without stopping. Then we canoed beneath 500 year old paintings on cliff walls painted by Ojibwa holy men. They showed, moose, hare and men with tobacco pipes surrounded by hand prints. They reminded me that I am a visitor in this hard, granite landscape.
Friday, June 27
It’s time to say goodbye to this unplugged time and space. Even as I write the date at the top of this page I remember all the deadlines and time frames in the world beyond this lake. But for a few last minutes I watch the whirlygig beetling flitting among the bent reeds on the water.
P.S. If you’re at the convention in Colombus this week, stop by the Christian Peacemaker Teams booth and say hi!
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