A swift river, time sweeps away each day, each life event, and moves us from one river bend to the next. Oftentimes we would prefer to linger a little longer to relish a special moment, or be better prepared for change. While we have no control over the speed of the current or when our time will end, each day we make choices that we hope will bring fulfilment and joy.
As we have traveled these last five months, we have spent time in and near rivers and lakes, and I have found them soul-soothing, thought-provoking, and a metaphor for life. We kayaked on the Jefferson River near the headwaters of the Missouri, retracing some of the Lewis and Clark journey; rafted on the Clark Fork River; backpacked along streams and swam in Alpine lakes in the Sawtooth Mountains; collected and drank water from springs trickling from the ground on a backpack trip through Zion National Park; and traced ancient dried stream beds from the Triassic period in the Petrified National Park, where our footprints will be blown away by sunset.
While I’m eternally grateful for the incredible adventures hiking, backpacking, cycling, kayaking, and sightseeing, I’ve found that I am most grateful for the gift of time. I’m grateful that D chose to spend 5 months living with me in a very small space, dedicated to ensuring that even small details of van life made our trip efficient and pleasant. Every adventure was more meaningful for having him by my side.
I’m beyond-words-joyful that both my daughter and my son gave me the precious gift of time and chose to meet us for backpacking adventures (Christina in the Sawtooth in Idaho, and Ryan in Zion). These trips made indelible memories that I will cherish forever and always. I am so proud of the people they have become, and admire their outdoor skills – both were expert packers, and excelled in setting up and breaking camp with efficiency and without complaint. Being with them on the trail and in camp made my heart sing.
Our final two weeks of adventure in Zion were made complete by not only my son joining us for a week, but also for having friends give to each other the gift of time – six of us backpacked 30 miles over 4 days (and Rob of course went 5 miles and one day more), and then were joined by another six friends for an additional week of hiking and cycling. We were also blessed to spend time with Teri and Alan who moved to Utah several years ago, Rob’s parents, and to meet Ami and Rick (PLU – what they call “people like us”). The gifts of time, attention, loyalty, and effort from friends are priceless and make life magical.
I have always loved the lyrics from the song from Disney’s Pocahontas:
“What I love most about rivers is:
You can’t step in the same river twice
The water’s always changing, always flowing”
D and I will be forever changed by this first big journey, and have grown from the experience. We have learned patience, discernment, and how to live without accumulating things. We don’t know what lies around the next river bend, but look forward to new opportunities for adventure, growth, and service.
(Written as we head East from Utah to Virginia, where we will spend November and December and share the holidays with family and friends.)