Into A Wider Body of Experience

Just as a river reaches an ocean, my experience paddling the Grand Canyon has rejoined the greater ebb and flow of my life outside of the Canyon. With it, many deposits of wisdom, maturity and river lore have come with it. Rivers have the capability of moving tremendous amounts of sediment and nutrients downstream to create a rich and vibrant estuary zone. Though the Colorado is dammed by the Glen Canyon Dam and the Colorado no longer reaches the Gulf of Mexico due to US water usage, my life has been forever enriched by the intangible seasoning of the Grand Canyon.
How often do you have the opportunity to look fear in the face and then paddle Lava Falls? And then how about doing on a school day with your classmates? How often have you sprinted barefoot down a slot canyon because the sound of a plane passing overhead has convinced your group there’s a flashflood coming? How often are you ceaselessly humbled by the poise and majesty of stone towers that have existed long before the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the evolution of man? How often can you paddle 230 miles of river with 16 of your best friends? Yeah. ‘Nuff said.
The Grand was the stage of many firsts, many turning points (how about realizing more about what it means to be a man, for starters) and many occasions for earnest prayer and growth. My friend wrote in his journal that it is in the darkest hour that man shines the brightest. Though I did not feel my life was in danger at any point in our trip, it was—as in any extreme outdoor activity. But there were times when I was too afraid to get out of my sleeping bag and face the rapids of the day, times when I could hardly keep my oatmeal down because of the pit vipers doing the tarantella in my stomach, times when all I could do was trust God that I would be able to swim an 8 out of 10 rapid on the Grand Canyon scale if I fell out (And I did. Three times. Thus winning the Golden Snorkel Award.)
Besides the sand I keep finding in my pockets that gets into the keys of my cell phone, I have brought much with me. It’s impossible not to bring a place like the Grand Canyon with you. It sticks to your skin. It’s in your hair. It’s burned (pleasantly) into your mind’s eye. And it gives you a wider view of who you are and how deeply we are all connected to the natural world.

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