Last Friday night, I was kicking myself for starting yet another weekend sitting in bed by myself. While this is a pretty normal occurrence for me while living with chronic illness, this day was especially challenging. After just being discharged from a too close for comfort experience with septic shock and dangerously low blood pressure, my soul was just itching to get out and do something.
It was in this moment that I received a phone call from my sister asking me to meet her in Missoula, Montana–about a three hour drive away from my home. She excitedly explained that her and a few of her photographer friends would be hiking up to some natural hot springs in the snowy wilderness of Lolo Pass. This was something I had been dreaming about doing for quite a while, and the truth is that any time spent with my sister has the ability to make me feel immensely better, so as a result my heart was immediately set on the possibility of soaking in those steaming pools, while taking in the dreamy landscape.
I’ve always found that both my heart and soul find an intense kind of peace in nature. There is something wondrous about how each and every living organism comes together in the sort of perfect way that could only be the work of God Himself. And while Faith has always been a strong foundation for the life I am continually building, I have never been able to feel the presence of the Spirit so much as I do while immersed in nature. There is a quote I found somewhere a few summers back that probably explains this a bit better than I can: “At a very early age, I learned that in nature, I felt everything I was supposed to have felt in church. Walking in the woods, I feel in touch with the universe.”
Needless to say, my heart was almost immediately set on taking this trip. The potential of all the photographs to be captured, memories to be created and the peace of mind to be found overwhelmed my heart and soul with excitement. That was until reality set in…the realization that having just nearly died did not make this the smartest move on my part, and whether I could even physically or emotionally accomplish this without slowing down or becoming a burden to this group of able-bodied adventurers was out of the question. With this my heart sank.
Coming to terms with having an incredibly adventurous and spontaneous soul trapped within a body that wants to die is not only difficult, but crushing. There are times when I find myself crying out, “my soul cannot survive in this body.” I know this is not true because by now I know that I can survive just about anything. Recovery may not be an option, but adaptation is and always will be. I have to adjust to my new limitations, both survive and to maintain peace within my relationships with God, those in my life, as well as my physical body.
To say that I often find myself longing to immerse into the sweet serenity of the natural world is an understatement. And while I am happy for my family and the friends whom I love as they venture out and explore, their Instagram posts often leave a bittersweet taste and a twinge of envy. I understand that I now exist in a world in which my body and illnesses dictate my every move; more often than not keeping me confined to my bed, my room, or even in the hospital. But this is also where my relationship with Jesus has grown in the most incredible of ways. I have learned to rework my thought process and look for His presence in new places. Where I used to only feel that I could find God’s presence in the great outdoors or through the process of creating, I have made the most grand of discoveries: He is everywhere. Always. So even though the mountains still call my name when I find myself anxious or overwhelmed, I know that sometimes I will be unable to follow their call. And that is perfectly okay.