DEFEATING THE VIOLATION OF CANCER IS AN UPHILL BATTLE, often quite lonely, painful and certainly terrifying. It is a tremendous, crushing weight, with off-the-charts stress, traumatic to the core. The shattering diagnosis can reduce one to rubble, being so very powerless over the invasion; this malevolent intruder. I initially withdrew from friends and family, wanting to hide my fears and insecurity; consequently I experienced isolated misery needlessly.
I chose hiking as my solitary “get away”. I’ve never been a “physical type/athletic person” so this was quite the new challenge for me. I seem to be drawn to challenges apparently. As I struggled physically during my initial hikes, I began to recognize the relationship between the fight to climb the higher elevations with my fight to rid my body of the cancer. I needed to integrate skills to assist me in changing my body into a more efficient machine (which also allowed me to enjoy my time more fully). As I strengthened and set myself into motion, my mental outlook changed dramatically. By taking risks and seeking limited solitude, as I conquered mountains, valleys, the blunders, falls, and fears, I began to realize that I could conquer this threat to my life as well.
I was strengthening externally and internally. During silent times at a picturesque vista, or as I struggled for strength and arthritic joint mobility and range of motion while scrambling over steep rocks, I appreciated the Lord, the completeness of Him and recognized my absolute, desperate need for Him.
My eyes were opened to the fact that due to my unyielding independence, I was not dependent upon the One Who could ultimately help me. Once I grasped the importance of changing this void, and prayed for help with the second, separate cancer diagnosis, He did indeed help me! We climbed that slippery slope together; I came out victorious, He got the glory. What a terrific blend.
The wilderness helped expose my frailties. When I fell off the side of the mountain, or when I inadvertently stood on a coiled (and positively angry) potentially lethal rattle snake, all the skill sets in the world couldn’t ultimately save me. But crying out to God did save me, and most dramatically. Whether I was battling cancer, a psycho snake, or a raging black bear, it still boiled down to a need for something or rather Someone with greater power and ability beyond the natural realm. My trust needed to be in, and remains in Him. He doesn’t want us to fight our battles alone. The techniques of surgery or drugs could not fight my cancer battle to completion. A faith-infused prayer did and through Him, I more than survived. I found new meaning and purpose in living and expanded my relationship with God to a vital, living and loving one; so much more real. No matter how much training one can have, (including medical training) it all boils down to dependence upon God.
I enjoy this quote, what you think about it?
“We need wilderness because we are wild animals. Every man needs a place where he can go to go crazy in peace. Every Boy Scout troop deserves a forest to get lost, miserable, and starving in. Even the maddest murderer of the sweetest wife should get a chance for a run to the sanctuary of the hills. If only for the sport of it. For the terror, freedom, and delirium…” – Edward Abbey, from The Journey Home
AS I EXPANDED MY HIKING HORIZONS, the word “challenge” developed an entirely new dimension for me. I wish I had learned the importance of facing challenges fully head-on earlier in life, my response generally was to just get through it, get it over with for Pete’s sake. Challenges can develop strong, resilient character if we allow it. Looking beyond the immediate threat or difficulty, can make life more meaningful, more complete. Rather than wallowing in self-pity (which does have its uses, just not prolonged.) reach out, reach up, and discover what your tutorial is once you peel back the offensive layers, and determine to conquer. For me, stepping out into the forests and other trails, changed my rational, gave me balance, and formed a more acute imagination. Imagination, combined with hope and belief can either carry you through and beyond the challenge you face, or it can destroy you by imagining the worse. We each have that choice, its what we do with the life challenges, not to weigh its negative potential but rather imagine beyond it.
OUR NATION HAS DONE A FANTASTIC JOB OF SAFEGUARDING OUR PARKS AND PRESERVES. We are so blessed to have the wilds and all that is naturally a part of them, available to us. While being a good steward of nature, I believe part of that requires enjoying the footpaths and vistas while “leaving no trace”. Also while on trail, I learned to look UP time to time, and what a refreshing, new outlook on life itself developed. There are multiple, various terrains and hundreds of miles that I’ve covered in the last few years in the rough country.
I not only hiked, but experienced many trails and circumstances, some more vividly unforgettable than others, and each demonstrated a connection between the physical aspects with the spiritual similarities.
On my own, I doubt that I would have “connected the dots”, but a newly opened heart towards my Lord allowed me to hear His prompting, His gentle directing, His tutoring. Meanwhile, I am alert and eager to get back on trail, because He is training me while I’m in the wilderness. You know what? The fantastic thing is, what He does for me, He will also do similar for you, because He does not play favorites.