August 9, 2013
Day 6: Hallelujah!
After yesterday's eventful afternoon I was hesitant to get back on the trail, but I was also anxious because I knew we weren't far from HOME! When we were trying to make our way yesterday, you found the trail and we were ecstatic, only to loose it a short time later. Oh, the devastation! I think the photo below explains why this craziness happened and then ended quickly:
Today's backpacking was a repeat of the day before only amplified; fire damage, no trail, exhaustion. There were a lot more fallen trees in our way and we had to try and maneuver our way over, under, and around them.
I again had to stay close to keep from losing you in the aspens. It seemed like every time I got a little behind, I would see signs of bears (tracks and fresh feces) that made me speed up real quick. I got so tired of following you without a trail because GPS is only so accurate. We were zigging and zagging all over the place trying to stay on route. We would go up a mountain, assess our progress, course correct and then come back down a bit. Up a bit, down a bit... across a river, back across again. I was so sick of the GPS I wanted to scream! Like I've said on previous days, there's not much to do when walking for miles and miles day after day so my mind wanders.
I started thinking about how the GPS was like the Liahona (aka: a compass of sorts) guiding Lehi and his family in the wilderness. His sons, Laman and Lemuel were probably so sick of following the Liahona. I can just picture them murmuring, "Oh come on! Why do we have to go that way, this way looks much easier! Are you kidding me? We have to go straight up that mountain?! Let's just stay in the valley where it's easy."
Yeah, I might have done some murmuring in my head. The truth is, I was so grateful for you and your knowledge and that all I had to do was follow and I knew you would eventually lead me home. After all, you had a Global Positioning System (aka: a compass of sorts). And now I bring you yet another analogy for our children to read and ponder someday from David A. Bednar:
As we each press forward along the pathway of life, we receive direction from the Holy Ghost just as Lehi was directed through the Liahona. “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5). The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as the Liahona did for Lehi and his family, according to our faith and diligence and heed.
The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide and will bless us with direction, instruction, and spiritual protection during our mortal journey. We invite the Holy Ghost into our lives through meaningful personal and family prayer, feasting upon the words of Christ, diligent and exacting obedience, faithfulness and honoring of covenants, and through virtue, humility, and service. And we steadfastly should avoid things that are immodest, coarse, crude, sinful, or evil that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost.
When we got home from backpacking I happened to be reading in Alma 37:44 and it says-
"For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land." Yes, it was easy for them to follow the compass, yet they failed to do so! Time after time they had to learn the hard way and repent for their mistakes. That sounds exactly like my life; continually learning and adjusting my course! I wouldn't say life is "easy", but we do have all the tools we need to make life "easier".
When we were trying to get back on course today we found a trail marker that was scarred from fire, standing there with no trail in site. It looked like a cross and it reminded me that even when I don't know which direction to go and I feel lost, I can always look towards Christ and He will guide my path.
Towards the end of the day we found the trail again (Hallelujah!) and followed it back to the car. I pointed out an aspen root to you and you started sharing your knowledge with me about aspens; how they grow, why there are so many after a fire, about the largest colony of aspens, etc. I was amazed, both at your knowledge and by the strength of my favorite tree. According to Wikipedia, the most reliable online source in the world (ha, ha):
All aspens typically grow in large clonal colonies, derived from a single seedling, and spread by means of root suckers (ramets). Aspens have an extensive root system and ramets have been recorded growing up to 40 meters from the parent tree. Each individual tree can live for 40–150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony is long-lived. In some cases, this is for thousands of years, sending up new trunks as the older trunks die off above ground. For this reason, it is considered to be an indicator of ancient woodlands. One such colony in Utah is estimated to be 80,000 years old, making it possibly the oldest living colony of aspens.
They are able to survive forest fires, because the roots are below the heat of the fire, with new sprouts growing after the fire burns out. Aspens do no thrive in the shade, and it is difficult for seedlings to grow in an already mature forest. Fire indirectly benefits aspen trees, since it allows the saplings to flourish in open sunlight in the burned landscape.
Fascinating, right? Another analogy came to mind as I walked. Are you surprised? It's like the more time I was in the mountains, away from the world, the more I felt in tune with God. Each day I seemed to think a little less about the daily droll of life and more about the eternal perspective. I feel as though my soul has been edified.
After you told me about the amazing aspen tree and their powerful root system I began to think about how the fire actually helped them. In the scriptures fire is often a symbol for cleansing, purifying, or sanctifying. Fire can also serve as a symbol of God's presence. As the fire raged across the mountain side, it burnt all the trees whose roots weren't strong enough to withstand the heat. Yes, the fire was devastating and yes, it left a scar on the landscape. The aspens even appeared to be dead, and yet this fire is what helped them come back more powerful than before. As long as they were still holding tightly to the parent tree they were able to survive. No longer did they have to fight for the sunlight because those who stood in their way were gone. The shadows around them had disappeared and they could now reach their full height and potential.
James E. Faust said, "In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd...
Into every life there come the painful, despairing days of adversity and buffeting. There seems to be a full measure of anguish, sorrow, and often heartbreak for everyone, including those who earnestly seek to do right and be faithful...
In our extremities, it is possible to become born again, born anew, renewed in heart and spirit. We no longer ride with the flow of the crowd, but instead we enjoy the promise of Isaiah to be renewed in our strength and “mount up with wings as eagles” (Isa. 40:31)...
A rebirth out of spiritual adversity causes us to become new creatures. From the book of Mosiah we learn that all mankind must be born again—born of God, changed, redeemed, and uplifted—to become the sons and daughters of God (See Mosiah 27:24–27)...
President Marion G. Romney, speaking for the Lord, has said of this marvelous power: “The effect upon each person’s life is likewise similar. No person whose soul is illuminated by the burning Spirit of God can in this world of sin and dense darkness remain passive. He is driven by an irresistible urge to fit himself to be an active agent of God in righteousness.” (In Conference Report, 4 Oct. 1941, p. 89.)"
Wow, this post turned out to be more theological than I anticipated. I wanted to be sure and capture my thoughts and feelings as I journeyed along this 2013 6 day backpacking adventure though and I've done just that.
Love always and forever, Me