Ash Wednesday is a stark reminder that we are only here for a short while before returning to the Earth from which we came. I’m being reminded more every day as my body changes and I recall things I used to be able to do that my time is running out, at least my time here anyway.
Over the past weekend some friends provided an antidote to my malaise by inviting me to cabins in Allegheny National Forest, a huge swath of wilderness bordering New York State without phone service and paved roads. I spent the days hiking and nights around the campfire, soul-searching amidst light conversation and alternating feelings of hot and cold as I shifted position near the dancing flames.
It wasn’t until I lifted my gaze from the barely visible path back to my cabin that I could see a plethora of stars dotting the indigo sky, hanging like Christmas lights in the trees along the horizon. All the celestial beauty and magnificence had been obscured by ambient light from the fire and much like my own Existential dilemma I couldn’t see the light through the darkness. Now the black-and-white heavens appeared both solemn and exhilarating, juxtaposed like alpha and omega, yin and yang, life and death. And isn’t that the essence of our lives, paradoxes of what we see and what we can’t; what we want and what we have; what we do and what we don’t?
I hiked all the next day around Minister Creek and nearby mountains with a new-found zest and sense of oneness with the world again. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I got to wondering what the loves of my life are: God, family, nature, running, helping others and, oh yeah, myself. Maybe this weekend you can ask yourself, How’s my love life? I hope it’s full of vistas, stars and revelations of your own.