One Truth for Navigating Unfamiliar Terrain by Faith

From the trailhead, the narrow, uneven path took us up a short, steep incline between towering pines. The road below and the river beyond were visible between their trunks. Lodgepoles, their growing habits produced tall, straight poles topped by comparatively tiny Christmas trees and created a sheltering canopy over the trail. At the top of the slope the path turned away from the traffic and entered an entirely different forest, this one dense and silent. Here the trees were young and full to the ground—all born from Yellowstone’s Fires of 1988. We walked—my husband and I—side-by-side on an earthen path {Continue Reading}

Friday Field Notes | A Little Geography

One strange thing about the internet world is that I don’t actually know where many of you live. Oddly, though, because of this unfamiliar terrain we’re collectively navigating, I can probably pretty accurately guess that most of us are at home much more than usual. How’re you doing with that? Today I am meh, but so is the weather. Every day is different. I live in the midwest, where it’s generally flat. Part of our family lives a few hundred miles to the south of us and part lives a few hundred to the north. The ones in the south have consistently warmer weather and {Continue Reading}

Friday Field Notes | Good News When the News is Bad

My son is studying abroad this semester. In northern Italy. Until this week, I hadn’t heard much talk about northern Italy outside the context of his travel plans. Now it’s all over the news. He was supposed to start classes next Monday. On Monday of this week, his university closed because of the coronavirus. As of Thursday, the start of classes has been postponed a week. Am I worried about him contracting the coronavirus? Not especially. Do I wake up in the morning wondering if his city has been put on lockdown, if his university will be closed indefinitely, how he’s handling being a {Continue Reading}

Fall Field Notes

Good morning to you on this fine autumn day! Today I’m doing something just a little different and sharing a few field notes, a gathering of what the landscape of life has been teaching me. If you have a moment to pause and ponder what the landscape of your life is teaching you, I’d love to hear—either in the comments or via email. The phrase “It’s a season” is good, true, helpful, and hopeful. It also, I’m learning, encourages me to expect it to run its course within a certain timeframe. This leads me to focus on the end prematurely. {Continue Reading}

Five Surprising Tips for Walking by Faith from Hiking in the Dark

We set off, a dozen trainees, gravel crunching under our feet, toward the foreboding forest. We’d congregated at twilight to learn to hike in the dark. Like the rest of the greenhorns, I’d shown up with my flashlight because, obviously, we would need to something to light the way.  What we needed, according to our trainer, was time, not a torch. He said we would have all the light we needed—from the moon. After thirty to forty-five minute adjustment period, our night vision would kick in and we would be able to see well enough to find our way in {Continue Reading}

Walking Together

There is more to setting off on a hike than hopping over the back fence with a loaf of bread and a pound of tea à la John Muir–turn-of-the-ninteenth-century naturalist, writer, and outdoorsman. While his short list encompassed food and nutrition, survival and sanity suggest we take more when we head into the woods. We need to know where we’re going and how to get there. We need protection from the elements. We need first aid supplies. Beyond that, it helps to know a little about hiking technique—how to take an incline, how often to rest, and how to travel {Continue Reading}

One Question for When You’re Finding Your Way

The gradual slipping away of the pine-lined path went unnoticed—by me anyway. We’d set off that morning, wanting to spend just a little more time on the trail and in the park before heading home from our week in Yellowstone. Situated along the way, the Gneiss Creek Trail would do well, we thought. It was new. It was short. It sounded inviting. And it was, rising slowly through terrain that sang an unmistakable song of the west and stirred memories of Kevin Costner’s narrative segments from Dances with Wolves. Emerging from thick, head-high lodgepole pines into a sudden clearing, I {Continue Reading}

Putting Myself Aside

With winter’s chill rolling off him as he and his siblings came in from the wintry night air, my son asked, “Can we have our friends over to play boot hockey?” Flanking him, his sisters, echoed the question silently with their eyes. We live in Iowa, and of the ten years we’ve lived in a place with a pond nestled in the woods behind our house, three of them have granted us good ice. He’d dedicated himself to keeping the ice clear—shoveling after each snowfall so that it would be open to play with his sisters, with his dad, with {Continue Reading}

Pondering Life Outside {Why it Matters}

A strange sort of geography took my parents, my brother, and me from Glacier National Park in northern Montana back home by way of a one day drive through Yellowstone. It was 1989, the year after Yellowstone’s Summer of Fire. We’d watched it unfold on the evening news. Night after night reporters stood in front of walls of flame,  columns of firefighters, or charred forest, delivering their opinion that fire was destroying our national treasure and predicting that Yellowstone as we knew it would be gone forever. We were Yellowstone regulars. I had worked at the Old Faithful Inn during {Continue Reading}