June 6, 2014

100 Mile Wilderness

 The name alone, “The 100 Mile Wilderness,” gives you a sense of weight and hesitation; it seems to illuminate for me a understanding of that which is not easy, convenient, or comforting. These four words are something my mind has repeated and thought on often this past week. My dear and adventurous family has left for their journey along the Appalachian Trail, leaving the house, four cats, and a dog, all to my sweet mother and I. 

For as long as I can remember my dad has dreamt of this 6 month hike, and it didn't take my sister and brother long to begin dreaming it as well. Since then, my sister's husband and my little cousin have taken on the adventure with them. Now, the time for the 5 of them to leave has finally come as to about a week ago, and here I sit- surrounded by cats, sore from mowing the lawn, and googling the nearest dumpsters for tomorrow's trash duty. Is this a place every college graduate finds themselves in, or is this just me? Regardless, it is safe to say I have launched into a new season of my life, and it is full of lessons.

"The 100 Mile Wilderness" has seemed to be a lesson itself, for me these past few days. This is the northernmost part of the Appalachian Trail, and is currently the section my family is passing through now. If you Google this trek you might find descriptions such as: one of the most remote trails in the United States, uninhabited, seldom traveled, harsh contrasts, and unforgiving to the ill-prepared. Make no mistake about it; this is nature in the raw. This rough and narrow path is surrounded by 15 million acres of inaccessible woodlands- making it a hearty test of their physical strength and commitment within. We are to assume that the average length it'll take our hikers to get through this stretch is around ten days. That is 10 days of no contact all the family back home has with them. This has given my mind free range to think of all the different circumstances they could be in. All in all, I always come back to the question, “how?” How can one want to walk through 100 miles of straight wearying and rigorous wilderness (not to mention- still have over 2,000 miles to go afterwards)?

 I have come to believe the  answer is found more in not the “how” but the “why.” I am sure there are endless varieties of reasons “why” that have crossed through Maine's wilderness path, but I believe those reasons were the very thing that kept them going: their goal, their focus, their purpose…their reward. The more I think about it, I realize this is a question we can all ask ourselves; perhaps we are all walking, or being called, to a 100 Mile Wilderness. We may not be asked, “What are you walking for,” but more so “what are you living for?”
This is a question I find that constantly points me to my Light. As for myself, I see my purpose here on this earth to glorify my creator- by loving Him and loving His people. It is in His midst that I find my hope, perseverance, and worth. Therefore, as I go through “100 miles of wilderness,” whether it be a day's worth or a month, a heavy burden or light affliction, my purpose remains, pushing me forward. I think of how beautiful and thrilling the end of this stretch is going to be for my hikers; how rejuvenated and encouraged they will be to move on; and how thankful and satisfied they will be with what was accomplished. Just like the sun must die in the west if it is to rise in the east, we must endure to receive the reward in full. You hear the analogy all the time; let us not forget the climb up the mountain is what sets us on it's top.

One of the boldest things Christ taught us on the cross was that suffering is directly linked to glory. Is it possible this is just the thought we have forgotten? Hardship, even the smallest scale of it- waiting, discomfort, setbacks, disruptions, or whatever may not seem to line up with our wishes- we want none of it. We then are left only to find ourselves short of what we once saw lying ahead, no closer to our pursuit, and at a standstill of believing above our fears.
My family is walking right now, through what many of us choose not to tolerate, for we look at it as an inconvenient. Therefore, I have learned from them this week, to pinpoint my wilderness and walk- looking at it only as the path to my reward.

Hold tight to what is coming, pursue it passionately, and believe far above what you may fear.

I can walk through the wilderness, but it takes a steady fixing of my gaze on the cross- what I am living for.

-Lexi Adams 

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Images from: backpacker.com 

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