This week I was a chaperone for a youth group who went to The Forks in Maine Whitewater Rafting. I had never gone whitewater rafting until three years ago. Over the years, seeing the video and pictures it seemed too extreme for me. It was then that I decided if these kids can do it, I can too! It was life changing. The first step is orientation. During this time, we get fitted with a helmet and life jacket and given a paddle. Then we are instructed how to hold the paddle and how you will use it. In the midst of all the instructions you are also told of the dangers. Somewhere during this time there is a moment when fear and anxiety almost changes your mind. Nevertheless, despite the fears you get on the bus and go.
Once you are in the boat with nine other people: each a novice with a paddle, each ready to take on this adventure like experts. You shove off. The guide shows us a few commands as we enter the first of five rapids. Picking up speed we race fast and furious; twisting and turning over boulders and rocks, through gorges surrounded by sheer cliffs five stories high. The whitewater crashes over every angle of the raft and people fall out. There is no time to be scared you have to bring them back on board. It isn’t long before you become acutely aware of the danger and the reality that the river is in charge not you. However, you can also rest assure that it is okay because the guide knows every nuance, every ebb and flow of this watercourse. What you have gained in this adventure is the wonderful experience of being fully aware that you are alive!
The second and third night we went on a Moose Safari. The first outing we did not see a moose until we were on the way back to camp in the dark and a moose ran out onto the road in front of us. Suddenly we all were awake and aware that at any time a moose might cross our path and it would not be good if we were not watching. The second night we got to see four Moose. We got a few great pictures of a Moose eating in a bog. Two on the side of the road and one who we saw in the distance giving us time to slow to a stop. As we came up on this beautifully awkward creature it just stood there in front of the car without a care in the world. After a while we even beeped the horn and it just went to the side and began to graze.
Each of these experiences, whitewater rafting and searching for moose made me think about what it really means to be awake and aware in our daily life. How often do you really take the time to stop thinking of all the things you need to do and just let ourselves be present in your day? The truth is most of our us experience life filtered through TV or Smart Phones, tablets or computers Faith is the evidence of things not seen and the substance of things hoped for. Being awake and aware is evidence of faith! I can say from experience that God is my guide when life feels like the rapids and turbulence surrounds me. A moose only has to cross your path once for you to become extra alert to the possibility of another encounter.
I am compelled to believe God is trying to alert you! God is crossing our paths all the time showing us love and acceptance but we are not aware that it comes from the one who is LOVE itself. I believe God has called me to Haverhill to bring together people who are searching for a place where second chances are a reality; where you are accepted as you are; where the message of Jesus is not just words and speech but deeds and truth!