I am sitting on a rock on the edge of a lake in Olympic National Park. Hiking always feels like an investment in motion that gives a return in perfect stillness. You walk and walk and walk, paying with the motion of your body to reach moments like this: moments of otherwise unachievable stillness. The rock is warm beneath me and the the air is cold and clean. Pretty little Heart Lake is rippling under shifting winds, and moments of sun warm me to my bones, down to the bottoms of my bare feet. The only noise is the wind and the occasional birdsong. There are pauses, moments of almost perfect silence. How often do we experience such profound quiet in this modern life? Rarely. It has taken much work and many miles to find this.
There is more than just quiet here though. More than sun and wind and the singing of birds. There is a heart to this place, a wild heart, and there are moments when it touches me. Sometimes it brushes up against me and disappears. Sometimes it swallows me completely, absorbing me into it’s fabric so I am no longer myself. No longer the center of my own world. My desires and troubles shrink in the face of such wild majesty. I lose myself and become a part of something far larger. It is a relief, and a gift.
I earned this gift with sweat and pain and steps. I owe it to my feet, my legs, and to the people before me who knew the value of this place long before my feet touched the earth. There is a long line of people before me who valued these lands, who protected them, and shared them with others. They knew they would need help if they were going to preserve them. They could have kept them for themselves and left no one after them to care for them, but they didn’t. They were part of something bigger. They understood that the fabric we are part of is more important than the threads of our own lives.
I just wanted to say thank you.