“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and to know the place for the first time.” --T.S. Eliot
I arrived at our fishcamp island yesterday, an island off the west coast of Kodiak Island. While tearing around local stores gathering supplies for the summer, I ran into several people who chirped, “Oh, you must be so excited you’re going out to fishcamp!” I tilted my head, considered their excitement, but said it anyway, “It’s my 35th season.” “Oh,” each person said, disappointed.
Which made me feel guilty. Why wasn’t I excited to leave Kodiak and spend the whole summer on a gorgeous wilderness, albeit cold and rainy island surrounded by mammals and fish most people only see in documentaries? It’s a good life. But I've seen so much. I know it deeply, intimately. It takes a lot to surprise me out here.
This week a firestorm flared over Tim Challies' review of Ann Voskamp's stunning bestselling book, A Thousand Gifts, a book I had the privilege of reading in its early stages. (Disclosure, Ann and I are friends). He called the book “dangerous” because of elements of possible “pantheism” and “mysticism.” When Ann spoke at a recent festival I also attended, some people, particularly the 20-somethings, rolled their eyes in cynicism. Could anyone be this pure, this earnest, this authentic? Could anyone truly see the world through such wide, grateful eyes?
Here's my response. If we’re lucky, we live on this earth seven or eight decades. How is it that the youngest adults among us are often the most cynical? The old have more reason to grow tired and bitter. They've seen so much. They know life deeply, intimately. They‘re not up for any more surprises. I understand this.
I fly out into the rain under heavy skies, ride a cold open skiff pounding in frigid seas to an island where I have lived—and died---a thousand times over. Where my husband and I have dug out a well, built a house, dug water lines, hunted deer, raised children, picked millions of salmon . .. A place of many injuries; a place I have wandered in despair; a place where I have worshiped. After all these years, is it possible to still see anew? Is it possible to see this island as God sees it?
"It is possible that God says every morning to the sun 'Do it again,' and every evening 'Do it again' to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike. It may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy: for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we." (G.K. Chesterton)
Today is my first day here--literally. I'm starting to get excited. Reminded by Ann, by Eliot, Chesterton, I am ready to explore and know this place again for the first time. And I’m excited to bring you with me these next months in the recovery of wonder. Mine-------and maybe yours?