The Fierceness of Nature

The sea was angry that day, my friends. Seriously angry. Waves pounding the rocks at Schoodic Point in Acadia, remnants of Hurricane Jose.

Phil LaBelle, 2017.

I—and many others—sat transfixed by the constant crashing of saltwater. Some had even brought beach chairs to enjoy the show, eating peanuts while taking it all in.

It doesn’t take George Costanza—see what I did there?—to tell you that nature isn’t always peaceful. Certainly we know it’s not safe. Driving out to the point I saw multiple signs warning about the high surf. When I spoke with a ranger, he mentioned that three people had gotten hit by thunderous waves in the past day. (Pro tip: Objects in your iPhone camera selfie mode are closer than they appear.)

And this ferocity is a good thing.

What I love about the wilderness is that it doesn’t give two hoots about me or my life. I had to buy and carry a $40 can of bear spray with me while out in the Rockies just in case. (Anyone want a can of never used bear spay for $35?) While backpacking I always carry an emergency bivy sack and have added a satellite GPS texting device this summer. I’ve had to pull out my first aid kit a few times this summer—nothing more serious than a cut or blister—and our family watched in horror as a woman almost drowned in a swiftly running river.

Nature isn’t kind. But because of that I can stop thinking that somehow the cares of my life are more important than they really are. When waves crash in and rise some fifty feet or more into the air, everything slides into perspective. The universe is bigger than I could ever imagine, and, while at times the difficulties I face seem big too, being in nature readjusts my perspective.  I realize that it’s not all about me.

And that lessens my worry. It helps me release what I’ve been holding on to. It allows me to thank the Holy One for the gift of nature in all its wonderful wildness and to stare transfixed for an afternoon. Getting out into the wilderness reminds me that in the end “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”