Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Walk on the Wild Side

I believe that there is a natural desire in men (and boys) for adventure. Danger, the unknown, exploration, all tug at the hearts of men. Every week my sons ask me to take them up into the little patch of woods behind our house that is no bigger than an acre. To them though, it is a serious adventure. It is probably all the more so since we don't allow them to go there by themselves yet. They beg to go to my grandparents piece of property on the other side of the county that is over 300 acres. Adventure seems to be in the DNA.

I agree with John Eldredge, God created man wild, and that's a good thing. The wildness of man has made possible all that we have today. His sense of adventure has led us to new lands and new frontiers. Man's quest for knowledge has given us the Internet (maybe not the best example) and modern medicines that basically eliminate sicknesses that once destroyed so many lives. Saint Irenaeus said that, "The glory of God is man fully alive." Man is most fully alive when he is living some sort of adventure, pursuing danger or greatness which are often intertwined, and making his way through an untamed world, and that, in my mind, is the glory of God.

Is it any wonder so many men are walking dead in our day? Our opportunities for real adventure have all but disappeared. My heart yearns for adventure when I read of Lewis & Clark, Teddy Roosevelt, and Kit Carson. I ache with a desire to find unchartered lands, dangerous jungles, and snow-capped mountains.

Now some may argue that getting married, raising children, and guiding a family is an adventure in itself. Others may argue the same about the religious life. I cannot argue. They too are adventures. However, it is a different animal altogether. It does not, for me at least, address the desire for clean air, danger, physical exertion, and natural peace. However, these "adventures" are not opposed. I have found that giving myself over to the adventures of the wild make me that much more prepared for the adventure of family. If I can survive on a mountainside with my wits and strength, I can deal with mountains of diapers and avalanches of homework!

What if you had the opportunity to do something really wild? What if you had the chance to go into wild country and test your mettle? Would you do it? Would you go? Would you put yourself, your manhood, your wildness to the test? What if I promised you that if you went, you would be a better husband, father, priest, deacon, or seminarian, and a better man?

Wilderness Outreach provides just that sort of opportunity and adventure. It is NOT a retreat in the traditional sense of the word. It truly is an expedition, an adventure not only into the wildness of the American West but also into the wildness of your heart. There, in the mountains, you will wrestle with your weaknesses and there, in the mountains, you will wrestle with God. If you have the desire to become "fully alive" as St. Irenaeus says, embrace your wild side, prepare your mind, heart, and body and then join a Wilderness Outreach Expedition!

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