My Arctic Expedition

My Arctic Expedition

I'm feeling my mortality today. Lisa suggested I go for a walk on the river. I lit my pipe, and upon the frozen plain I set my faltering feet. While I walked I remembered being in training as a pastor. I spent time for a course visiting terminally ill patients in a hospital. By the end of it I was sure I had every insidious disease going and even went to see my doctor to find out what I was going to die from. It was all in my head.

Being surrounded by illness, death and dying can have that affect on you. Our natural tendency is to escape from this kind of intensity by living in denial, dreaming our superficial wishes like children. Or like many people of faith do, to claim triumphant victory through a rescuing god. Fear is the root of both of those. It is our inability to accept the sober fact that we can't control life or martial God's will to suit our own. After a while, if you keep aware, you see that this is not reality. People get sick. People die. I've learned instead to embrace this revelation of my mortality, to sink down deep into the mystery of God and life and suffering and death, to take advantage of this clear, unveiled flash of remarkable vision. I will die. My solidarity with the human race is my mortality, my weakness and my sin. In these I am one with all things. My voice joins all creation that cries out for deliverance from bondage to decay in one beautifully sad requiem.

I walked way out onto the river, stood dead center and took account of my bearings. The river beneath my feet is frozen. I walk over a terrain of pain. I live in the arctic shield of suffering. But I am with lovers and friends, and even my enemies are warmly welcomed here. The Spirit is with me. I am plodding miraculously through this winter storm. I will reach the pole. And when I arrive there, I will be together with all things, the reconciliation already achieved finally made manifest to my weary flesh.

The photo was taken by me today, half-way across the Kennebacasis River in front of my home.

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