Date: March 5, 2017
; MATTHEW 4:1
GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC
March 5, 2017
The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor
The Peace of Wild Things, Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not
tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
One person’s wilderness is another person
’s Garden of Eden.
Both places of temptation, both places of mysterious wisdom, both places wher
learn what we are made of and
reminded of our place in the scheme of things.
Wilderness can restore harmony and generate dissonance. Welcoming it
easy or be hard won
either way, the wildnerness
teaches us what it will.
Utah’s canyon lands look like the moon.
Enormous rocks stacked by the ages teetering and standing guard as if giants once
played with the terrain.
The landscape seems
even as it calls us human beings to a primal
Camping there was an adventure my friend Tara and I carefully planned and eagerly
anticipated for months.
We drove the
re from New Mexico to arrive at
first light of the morning.
at the ranger station for maps and to tell them where we
would be camping in the
what day we planned on coming out.
We strapped on our backpacks and began our walk into the wilderness. It was a
bright sun and the o
ranges and browns of the rocks
invited us to
past where we had told the ranger we would set up camp.
We were young and perhaps foolish
but most of all, we were in awe of this rugged
ace. So, we kept going, following trails marked by stacke
found a beautiful place to pitch our tent.
It felt good to set up camp, to
prepare ourselves a meal under the stars, and to listen
to the night sounds of this ethereal
It was a good day.
The sound of thunder in the c
anyon lands rattles your bones
the sound vibrated
the ground and bounced from the rocks
reverberating for what seemed like
minutes at a time. We slept very little while we listened to the unexpect
The rain sounded heavy and strange
This is befo
re cell phones or GPS or weather apps. So, we just listene
d and waited
ushered us into what would be days of
determination. That epic storm had been snow, not rain, and the intricacy of the
canyon landscape was now a tota
l white out. We could not see anything
no markers, no
to give us our bearings.
We weren’t getting out of there any time soon and no one was getting to us either.
Our welcome to the wilderness became a harsh initiation into wildernes
Our first decision was not to overstep our bounds
we needed to stay put and wait
for some kind of clearing
either in the sky or in snow melt
. We took a
of our food, we passed
the time seeing how many songs to sitcoms we could
We talked about our lives and our unknown futures. We talked about
pt us going and what tempted us to give up.
And we waited.
After a couple of days, the landscape began to reappear. Most of the trails were s
covered, so we made the decision
to follow a map to try and
get to a jeep trail
about 3 miles away
After we made it to the jeep trail, w
e estimated we had 3 hours
of daylight to walk what was probably 6 more miles to get to our car.
The jeep trail
ran out. The map we had was wro
ng. We tried backtracking and looking for a
It was getting dark. We needed to find a place to sleep. We hadn’t seen any people
for days. Out of nowhere, a man’s voice spoke to us from the sh
“Where are we?” I asked. “Devil’s Kit
chen,” he said.