Seeking Wilderness (Rev. Steve Blackmer)
Editor's note: For many people the words wilderness and wild connote extremely negative feelings. But our contributors feel quite differently about these words, finding true religion and spiritual connectedness in wilderness immersion. Here is another example, and what an amazing ritual of renewal it is. Originally titled, "Driven into the Wilderness", this piece is a letter from Rev. Steve Blackmer to his followers after returning successfully from a 40 day pilgrimage down New England's longest river, Summer 2017.
We did it! On July 9, a faithful band of 14 pilgrims in a flotilla of 4 canoes and 6 kayaks reached Long Island Sound — 40 days after the River of Life Pilgrimage started at 4th Connecticut Lake on the U. S. - Canada border.
Along the way, 52 pilgrims paddled at least one overnight segment, another 40+ joined as day-paddlers, at least 75 joined us as pilgrims-in-prayer, and uncounted hundreds waved, cheered, provided food and shelter, shared stories, and joined in celebrations and prayers along the way.
As each of us entered into the flow of the river — the river of life, river of God — we were filled with the water of life.
Since we arrived at the great ocean, I have been largely without words to tell about the experience. So I find myself turning to this:
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near — transform your hearts and minds, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1: 9-15)
Being on the river refilled me. Notwithstanding the world’s many troubles, I am filled with hope. Despite all appearances, there is good news.
PS - As summer draws to a close, we are gearing up for a busy fall at Church of the Woods, plus we will be launching our Common Ground initiative in the coming months. Read on for more updates, and stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.
Learn more about Steve's 2017 River of Life Pilgrimmage here and via the video below:
Enjoy Steve's excellent, pictoral "Pilgrimmage Endings & New Beginnings" wrap up blog here.