Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual by Belden C. Lane

By Belden C. Lane

Sporting in basic terms simple tenting apparatus and a suite of the world's nice non secular writings, Belden C. Lane embarks on solitary religious treks in the course of the Ozarks and around the American Southwest. For partners, he has merely such academics as Rumi, John of the pass, Hildegard of Bingen, Dag Hammarskjöld, and Thomas Merton, and as he walks, he engages their writings with the typical wonders he encounters--Bell Mountain desert with Søren Kierkegaard, Moonshine hole with Thich Nhat Hanh--demonstrating how being by myself within the wild opens a unprecedented view onto one's inside panorama, and the way the saints' writings exhibit the divine in nature.

The self-discipline of backpacking, Lane indicates, is a metaphor for a non secular trip. simply because the desert provided revelations to the early wilderness Christians, backpacking hones an important religious abilities: being attentive, touring mild, working towards silence, and workout ask yourself. Lane engages the perform not just with quite a lot of religious writings--Celtic, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi Muslim--but with the fascination of alternative fanatics of the backcountry, from John Muir and Ed Abbey to invoice Plotkin and Cheryl Strayed. during this intimate and down-to-earth narrative, backpacking is proven to be a religious perform that enables the invention of God amidst the sweetness and unforeseen terrors of nature. Adoration, Lane indicates, is the main applicable human reaction to what we can't clarify, yet have still realized to like.

An mesmerizing narrative for Christians of all denominations, Backpacking with the Saints is an inspiring exploration of ways solitude, simplicity, and mindfulness are illuminated and inspired by means of the self-discipline of backcountry wandering, and of ways the wasteland itself turns into a fashion of knowing-an ecology of the soul.

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I remember reading Wendell Berry’s poetry one summer morning, sitting at Togwotee Pass overlooking the expanse of the Grand Tetons to the west. The distinction between myself, the green paperback edition of his Collected Poems, and the adjacent Wyoming meadow filled with fireweed began to blur. In a singular moment of meeting, what I’d previously considered to be “me” had to be radically rethought. When Martin Buber observed that “all real living is meeting,” he was speaking a biological as well as spiritual truth.

This man had read Athanasius’ Life of Anthony while strolling through a garden outside the walls of Trier. The Risk-Taking Character of Wilderness Reading 25 The book changed his life. Augustine notes that the location of his reading (“outside the city walls”) sharpened his attentiveness, connecting him to “the fecund wastelands of the desert” where Anthony had practiced his faith. ” What he reads in that moment from the book of Romans cuts him to the quick. The biblical text calls him, as it had Anthony, from his compulsive self-absorption into a new desert freedom.

For safety’s sake, the monks cut three thousand “steps of repentance” into the granite slope leading to the top of Mt. Sinai. They recognized the perennial danger of falling, both physically and spiritually, for pilgrims like themselves. An awareness honed by desert experience was essential. The third virtue of aphobia emerged from a familiarity with the terrors of a bleak terrain. John knew how easily minds are unhinged by the rasping sound made by horned vipers just before they strike. These highly poisonous snakes have devil-like horns above their eyes and hide camouflaged in rocks along desert paths.

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