Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book review - Boundary Waters: The Grace of the Wild

"The importance of wild places is not that they, unlike other places, are sacred, but that there we find, as Henry David Thoreau said,'our own limits transgressed.' We confront in wild places evidences of powers greater than our own; this evidence humbles us, and in humility is the beginning of spirituality. Wildness matters not because it alone is sacred but because it arouses in us the sense of sanctity that makes visible the sacredness of everything else in life." (p. 201)

Man, I dig that. Its from Paul Gruchow's Boundary Waters: The Grace of the Wild. I just finished reading this book, and I give it a thumbs up. I am, however, a bit biased because a good portion of this book is set in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), which just happens to be one of my favorite places. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, and if you experience a spiritual reaction to time spent in the wilderness, then I think this book would be worth throwing in your backpack the next time you hit the trails.

I found several other selections from this book to be really compelling - here are a few of 'em:

(1) "My face had grown windburned, and when I arrived back at the cabin after my outing, the outer layer of my coat was soaked in sweat. I was healthy, contented, happy, and peaceful. I had time to think, the company of people I liked, lots of fresh air and physical labor, good plain food, and sleep. I could not remember why I thought, most of the time, that I wanted or needed anything more." (p. 130)

(2) "I open my senses. I hear more, see more, taste more, smell more, feel more. The world comes to me like a shock of icy water this foggy wilderness morning. My pores gasp, and the world enters them." (p. 23)

(3) "Still, in the silence of forests, in the austerity of cold, beyond reach of the marketplace, there does seem an innocence of spirit capable of transcending the ordinary pettiness of life." (p. 137)

(4) "Life is always and everywhere manifest in ways that eyes do not see nor ears hear. It lies hidden, waiting to be expressed in attentiveness." (p. 127)

(5) "The silence deep in the wilderness and the one at the center of the human heart are sublime and serene, and they cannot be heard except when alone, and over a broad margin of time and distance. There are some communications, such as those from the stars, that require a greater darkness than can be found at the edges of society." (p. 26)

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