Were You laughing as hard yesterday as we were, Abba? In light of the head-shaking, mind-boggling, body-challenging difficulties we were encountering in our Once-in-a-Decade Adventure?
Life at the margin. That’s where we were yesterday.
“Margin: a bare minimum below which or an extreme limit beyond which something becomes impossible or is no longer desirable.” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
We had planned our first canoeing trip in over a decade! We were SO EXCITED!!! It was a beautiful day — partly cloudy, mid-seventies, zero percent chance of rain. We had gathered up our gear and scouted our “put in” and “take out” spots. Both vehicles were fueled up, because we had to leave one at the end of our planned trip and the other at the beginning. We had snacks and drinks and fishing tackle and all of the canoe-related gear we could possibly need.
All except the water! 🙂
There is a river gauge northeast of us, in Culpeper. It measures the depth of the water at its location and then “experts” (whoever they are) estimate (and publish online) the expected water levels at various sections of rivers downstream. By their estimates, we were right at the margin.
I guess those particular experts are “glass half full” kind of people. With, perhaps, a tendency toward optimism? Reality caught up with us on the river. We were actually a bit past that margin!
At first, we had considered an all-day odyssey. At the last minute, wisdom got the better of us — THANK YOU, LORD! — and we opted, instead, for a 3.5 hour “cruise” down a reportedly-beautiful section of the Robinson and Rapidan rivers. Our 3.5-hour “cruise” became a 5-hour marathon of “power” strokes and deep-knee bends, as we ran aground at least 20 times… probably more!
Digging aggressively with our paddles through mini-rapids, chopping into the sandy (though, usually, rocky) streambed until we came to screeching halt as the little water that remained ran around us. Climbing out of the canoe, pulling it forward (or sideways) into deeper water, climbing back in. Numerous muscles I didn’t even know I had are still sore!
We could have played it safe and decided to not go yesterday. Barring some unseasonable downpours this Fall, that decision would have meant waiting until after next year’s spring rains. Aside from these very sore muscles, what else would we have missed if we had said “No” to the rivers yesterday?
The 20+ Canadian geese we kept following down the river, those floating on water we kept longing to see? Geese we kept surprising (and, no doubt, annoying) with our sudden appearances around various bends in the river’s path… forcing them, time-and-again, to flight?
The lone deer we flushed from the water onto an island thick with underbrush? The deer that remained hidden in the brush as we passed by, perhaps thinking it was smarter to stay out-of-sight since any humans on the river yesterday must really be crazy? 🙂
The comical interlude when I was caught beyond escaping by a thorn bush? A huge tree had fallen across the river (one of many we encountered). It was blocking most of the water, so we had to pass under it near its exposed root mass… which turned out to be exactly where a huge thorn bush had made its home. Go figure. I felt like Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby — the more I struggled, the more “caught” I got! First I thought I would never get untangled. Next (while still in that thorny embrace), I thought I would never stop laughing!
Maybe that deer was right! 🙂
What a difference just two or three inches of water would have made!!!
I guess there’s also a more serious (i.e., profound) aspect to this whole “Life at The Margin’ thing. On which side of it do we usually live? On which are we called to live? How close can we get to The Margin without going over “the edge”… and with what consequences (eternal or otherwise)? When is the “safe” place the smart place? Would an unrepentant sinner and Your servant answer these questions differently, Lord? And when is that “impossible” place, by Your Spirit, the place of greatest possible impact… and, therefore, not undesirable at all?
I’ll think more about this tomorrow, Abba. But now, I hear Your gentle whisper as my Great Physician: “Take two aspirin and commune with Me in the morning.” Yes, Sir!!! 🙂
“Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him.” (Psalm 32:10)
Still laughing with You,
Abba’s Thorn Baby 🙂