I miss creation. This summer, I had the opportunity to experience nature unfolding. I spent it in a moss-covered Eden—Camp Squeah in Hope, British Columbia—complete with snow-capped mountains, grizzlies and Canadians. I worked as a guide, leading rock climbing, backpacking and canoe trips for teenagers. From mastering bear mace, to brewing Devil’s Club tea to being stuffed into smelly hockey gear as the token American, it was quite a learning experience. But most of all, I was struck with deep love for the outdoors. From fighting sheer rock, to paddling 116 km to waking up to a mama and baby moose grazing outside our tent, this natural connection woke me to a new peace.
I lived with the bare essentials (showers are highly overrated and everything smells like campfire anyway) and have never been happier. Days were spent waking with the dawn, reaching campsites, chatting, writing poetry about how BC is prettier than Indiana and learning to just be. I didn’t want to come back to Goshen. I didn’t want to lose that peace. Reluctantly though, with a looming, prepaid plane ticket and a nonrefundable semester deposit, I returned at the end of August. I didn’t realize how much I missed the outdoors until I was stuck in front of a computer again, pounding out emails and papers, always tired and never enough time to sleep. It is hard to recover from the loss of something so life-changing and far-removed from your current situation, especially when overcome with academia stress.
But a few weeks ago, I was walking home from a friend’s house late at night and I felt an urge to stop. I found a pine tree to sit under and proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes gazing at the moon. It was completely silent, completely still. And for the first time since leaving BC, I felt whole. It was something about being alone with the stars. School is swift and tumultuous. But maybe you don’t have to cross the continent to escape. Maybe peace is closer than we imagine if we take a second to remember what actually sustains us.