I returned a few days ago from a week-long kayaking expedition at Lake Powell in northern Arizona/southern Utah. Six other guys and myself embarked on a 7 day/6 night trip in which we kayaked around 8-10 miles a day on average and saw one of the most beautiful places in the world. At least in my opinion. It was a terrific trip, a great last spring break for me and a wonderful time spent with my best friends from college. Over the next few days, I will share some of my thoughts that emerged over the course of the trip and some reflections after the trip concluded. And in these posts I will also share some photos so you can at least catch a glimpse of what I experienced for a week.
It didn’t take me long to realize how much my life is controlled by technology (cell phone, email, internet, etc.) and how much my life is dictated by schedules. It was almost a liberating experience in that sense. For once, it felt like we were not in control . . . of anything. The other guys on the trip would agree with me on this point. We all realized that we didn’t miss technology as much as we thought we would and we all acknowledged the central role it somehow fulfills when we are at school. But when we were on the water, none of that mattered. We were at the mercy of the weather. Almost everything was beyond our control. We were free to simply live. We had a basic idea of our schedule for the week but it seemingly changed daily. For once, we were able to live freely. And the question that continually arose in my mind was ‘Is it possible to live in such a manner upon our return to school and if so, how?’ This question continues to haunt me even after being back a few days. We were never rushed when we were at Lake Powell. Time was our friend, not something to be conquered or manipulated. And for me, the best way to live freely, the best way to live in a way in which we aren’t controlled by responsibilities, assignments, schedules, appointments, etc., is to slow down. This is nothing new and definitely nothing profound. But we MUST find space to slow down amidst all of the chaotic busyness of life. If we do not, we will miss out on the many moments of life that God gives to us each day. I read a prayer each morning that begins like this: “God of my life, I welcome this new day. It is your gift to me, a new creation, a promise of resurrection.” It continues a little later on: “This day, Lord, is full of promise and opportunity: let me waste none of it. This day is full of mystery and the unknown: help me to face it without fear or anxiety. This day is blessed with beauty and adventure: make me fully alive to it all.” We must be aware of the life that is unfolding right before our eyes. We must not let the myth that we control our lives shield our eyes from the beautiful moments of the world to come that fill our lives. Lake Powell reminded me of this. Life is a gift. Life is not something to be controlled and ruled over by us. It is something we participate in, something we are a part of.