On reverence

Day 146 of #LiveWell2017

Day 146 Reverence

Long ago I worked at the National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Camp in Hendersonville, NC. The camp director at that time would gather the campers under the big pole barn on the their first night of camp. She would build up their excitement and then get serious with a quiet talk about the three R’s: respect, responsibility, and reverence.

When she talked about reverence, she explained that they were here to learn about (and in) nature and should show a deep respect for every living thing. She talked about finding the “awe” in the camping experience, and being sensitive to each other and the place where we were living and learning during the next two weeks. She asked the campers to cherish their experience and this place – the natural world that is home to us all.

For as long as I can remember (perhaps because of my camp director’s talks at Wildlife Camp), I’ve felt a reverence for the natural places I’ve visited, and I’ve tried to treat them with respect and appreciation. Today, we hiked up to Sherard Point on Larch Mountain – a place where, on a clear day like today, you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. Ranier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Jefferson. It is a place that deserves reverence, quiet awe, and appreciation.

Because the roads were still closed due to snow, it took a longer hike to reach the point and the view. When we arrived we were the only ones there. Within a few minutes two other people arrived. They were loud, giddy at the view (of course), and spent their entire time at the viewpoint chatting, taking selfies and other pictures with their cell phones. We learned that one of them had lived here all her life, but had never been to this point, yet here she was talking loudly, snapping pics, and posting/texting. She never did take a moment to just sit with the mountains, to rest in the view, to soak it all in or in any way show reverence for it (or for the experience of others).

After they left, we lingered awhile. I gave each mountain a few extra minutes of my time. I thought about how much this place, this view, deserved every ounce of reverence I could muster for it. I looked at the snow, the trees, the wildflowers blooming by my feet, the sweep of the valleys between peaks, and I breathed it all in, grateful for every second I had there in the presence of such grandeur.

With every breath, every look, these mountains change who I am. They are absorbed into me and become part of me. Reverence is a manifestation of mindfulness – being fully present in the moment.

Reverence. Respect. Awe.

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