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The Untamed North

My favorite place to go is the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. I spent a few days there in February; the untamed north reminds me of what I read in Romans 1:20, which reads: “Ever since the creation of the world, God’s eternal power and divine nature... have been understood and revealed through the things God has made.” One activity during that trip in February was to hike the lower mile or so of the Temperance River. At the mouth of the river, the waters mingle with the other northern waters to begin their new journey for perhaps ten thousand years to the Atlantic. I made it up the luge-like slickness of the steps and path that bring you above the river, atop the narrow gorge, carved into billion-year-old basalt lava flows. The path eventually leads to the high place of wide rapids, but still below the higher glaciated hills in the distance. The trail continues, though I’ve never hiked it, for several more miles to its source in the bogs and small lakes of the boundary waters. As you walk along the gorge, you hear the sound of cascading water below, which is often muffled by the ice and snow. Looking down, I smiled to see the tracks and slides of otters. The rock walls and hollowed cauldrons are decorated with organ pipe icicles. Some of the ice is stained green because of the sphagnum moss it covers. Above it all stand the birches, firs and spruces, some tall and stately, some broken and lichen covered, as if keeping vigil until spring. Chickadees chirp and flit among their branches. Cirrus wisps float overhead. I knelt in the snow to get a photo. And I knelt to thank the Creator for this place and that I could be here for a moment. I then stood and noticed my shadow, as fleeting as my life compared to this piece of Creation. In seconds, a cloud came and, to the rocks, trees, and waters, I disappeared.

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Pat Halverson is a retired Presbyterian pastor as well as a friend and former colleague of Dave and Beth Booram during their "campus ministry days."

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