Tonight a friend and I embark on a weekend trip to Utah to visit Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. For those that know me, I am not what is considered an “outdoors” person. I like my cities and would rather face a possible mugger than a small lizard on any day. Three years ago upon my move to Colorado, I would simply gaze upon the mountains from the Metro Denver area and I considered that good enough.

About two years ago, a friend from Chicago came for a visit and we explored New Mexico for a weekend. I spent much time outside, hiking, admiring, and being mesmerized by the beauty of the landscape. In the time since, I have slowly (I mean, snails pace) begun doing more outside. I am never fully comfortable, but depriving myself of exploring the beauty of God’s creation is simply not acceptable.

I am jumpy. I panic. I flinch. I constantly am on the lookout for predators (or, that which I perceive to be predators). I hate snakes. All of them. I work under the (ir)rational assumption that they all will kill me. I ran into one a few weeks back when my friend and I hiked Maroon Bells. Normally, my tendency is the following procedure:

  1. See snake
  2. Commence panic
  3. Start hyperventilating
  4. Pass out (most likely)
  5. Cancel remainder of trip

Upon seeing the little monster, I began to panic. Trusting my friend, I managed to calm myself. I easily could have turned back. Frankly, I wanted to flee like a red-shirt running from a Klingon in Star Trek. Yet, as I gazed upon the snake, struck with fear, I reminded myself of the beauty of the mountains that I would deprive myself of. I trekked onward (well, eventually).

This weekend, I enter Utah. I have long-desired to visit the beautiful red arches I have seen in photos for so long. Entering this hot terrain is one of the more difficult things I have done. It’s hot, it is rattlesnake country, and dammit, I’ve seen 127 Hours. But frankly, I’m not passing this up. Fear strikes. Fear results because I’ve viewed nature as a problem, something I must somehow get past. Yet this is no manner in which to live. To quote Kierkegaard (I know, shocking), “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” I’m taking those words with me into the wilderness. Experience the wonder. Experience the joy. Experience the fear. In doing so, I’m going to experience the reality of God himself.

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