In a memoir of adventure, tragedy, family and faith, a daughter navigates the wilderness of an Alaskan river and her own heart. When her parents are killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska’s remote Arctic, author Shannon Huffman Polson re-traces their route in a quest for healing in her book, North of Hope.
For those who feel “the grass is always greener on the other side”, God invites us to open our eyes to locally-sourced outdoors. See why failing to do an epic long-distance outdoor adventure is no failure at all.
After school, you skipped off the bus, grabbed a snack and bolted for the outdoors to meet with friends. Now you’re headed home with soggy socks and stickers in your laces. Without knowing it, the past few hours shaped you considerably. Your mom talked about God, but that's the place where you knew, without a doubt, He was real.
“Bam, crash!” Instinctively I reach for the raft, the wilderness’ perfect getaway car, ready to launch it back into the current and the relative safety of the river. Having not seen another human for days, I assume that whatever is bearing down on us has four legs and the ability to either chomp us or stomp us into the ground. But something is different.
What better way to get out of your comfort-zone than by experiencing God’s creation up close and personal! We were a motley crew; wide-eyed and anxious, pressing in around Josh, our river guide, hanging on to every bit of life-saving instruction he had to offer as we were about to embark on a grueling, fifteen mile stretch of whitewater rapids through Cataract Canyon.
We push out, immediately accelerating to the brisk pace of the water rushing by. The sheer size of the river masks the current, nothing that big could possibly be moving so fast. The sun glistens off the water, unable to penetrate the glacial silt that turns the water a creamy lime-sherbet hue as our 14' NRS Otter, fully inflated by the unseasonably warm temperatures, rides high.
Blending a family can be a game of tug-of-war. What is fair and what is right are all part of the compromise of daily living. Because of the strain that family, ministry and work can bring, we find it helpful to get away and relax with each other and with the Father. We recently went on a trip to Ouray, Colorado to regroup and just have fun together.
We paddled around the Vava’u group of islands, tent camping and cooking out on comely white sand beaches. Each day we had time for snorkeling and exploration of the mostly deserted islands. Yet other than witnessing the birth of my two sons, I am not sure any other experience left me shaking with awe and joy so much as looking into the eye of a whale.
I love taking students into the wilderness and allowing them to try new things, that’s when the light bulbs really start to come on. We each learn the most when we push ourselves out of our comfort zones, not to the breaking point, but somewhere in that sweet spot of being uncomfortable in a good way. The beauty is that each person’s sweet spot is unique.
God's beautiful creation affects us all the way down to the very last fiber of our being, but what will we do with those interests, desires, and passions that His creation inspires? God's great creation should not to be kept to ourselves! Rather, it should be shared in order to show love for our God and neighbors.
I blame it all on the opening scenes of Jeremiah Johnson. The spot-on cinematography flaunting the unforgivingly treacherous yet serene Rocky Mountain landscape was all it took to instill an ambitious longing to travel to the American West. I made an oath that I would follow these urges one day.
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