Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Trail To The Interior Wilderness


Dale Matson

I recently finished a book that involved hiking trails into several Sierra Nevada alpine basins over several years. Each journey involved some risk with most of the trips being solo. Each trip was an out and back. Many required an overnight or two and great effort under the burden of a backpack. I used to run the Yosemite trails, covering more mileage in a day than three days of backpacking. These trips provided singular perspectives from on high and punishing descents back to the beginning at the trailhead. These hikes provide glorious suffering and a sense of accomplishment.

All of these journeys are real and recorded and require sweat and gumption but they are also metaphors for the journey inward. This trail is more difficult and dangerous with no assurance markers along the way. The mountain trips are optional but the inward journey is not.

I am halfway finished with writing a devotional, a Lectio Divina based on the Epistle readings for Morning Prayer in the 1928 Prayerbook. It is a much slower trail. I began this book three years ago. It requires selection, reflection and prayer. God only knows if anyone will read it besides the editor and me but it is above all a book of thanksgiving and praise. The more I read and reflect on Scripture, the more I love the God I so undeservedly serve.

He has chosen me and bestowed on me the faith necessary to believe in Him. He called me from my youth but I resisted and postponed His call. Since taking on Holy Orders and being installed I have suffered for the sake of the Gospel. This book is a recalibration of my internal compass. I have been off course. Writing sermons doesn't provide enough time with God.

I am a priest who looks for God in things beautiful, especially the tarns and granite of the Sierra Nevada. But currently my own interior is more barren than any alpine basin. My heart is filled with boulders and scree. My heart is in need of more time alone with God. Time is something that is running out. Working on the devotional will break the rocks so the water may flow forth in the wilderness.

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