This week Peggy and I are living in a cabin on the shores of Poplar Lake on the Gunflint Trail of Northern Minnesota. It has become an annual journey to restore our souls. There is something about the solitude of the woods which helps us feel more connected; to each other and the world.
Yesterday was a day guided by impulse. We headed out early to spot moose and happened upon two very large bulls. They did not appreciate our presence. As soon as they heard us approach, they dashed off into the deep brush and out of sight.
After this encounter, we kept moving without a clear cut purpose. Eventually, we found ourselves at the end of the Gunflint Trail in the parking lot of Wilderness Canoe Base. Wilderness Canoe Base is a Lutheran camp and a launching spot for the wilderness area known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. This late in the fall, it is a place with very little human presence.
Alone in the wilderness, we headed off in canoes to explore. My favorite part of the morning was sitting in the outdoor chapel. Peggy and I found ourselves drawn into silence. We listened to Juncos darting through the underbrush, Nuthatches taping trees and Chickadees chattering to each other.
Solitude forces me to look within myself to see the outside world. I found myself asking, are the people in my life there for me to use? Or, are we partners searching together for life and meaning? When I think of people as commodities to use for my purpose, I find my life guided by anger and jealousy. Yet, when I look deep within other people I see life. When I see life I’m much more likely to find patience and kindness.
I think this is Paul’s point in today’s reading. When we live by selfish desire, seeing others as something for us to use, anger, jealousy and frustration will fill our lives. However, when we live in the gifts of the Spirit, we will discover peace, patience and kindness. Take time today to be led by the Spirit, so you too might find peace. (Gal. 5: 18-25)