BOWEN COLUMN: Part 16: Lost in Yellowstone

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, October 14, 2021

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One of the things I’ve thought of so much from this side of this journey is the wonder (for lack of a better word) in the process of trying to absorb as much of the experience as possible. I mean that for me, not just for you. Then there’s the added wonder in trying to find a way to put into words the danger, the depth of the emotions, the fainting fatigue that dragged you down moment by moment for six full days. Telling the story helps in both regards, although there is the constant realization that, at best, we are still, as says the apostle, telling it as if we are looking through a glass dimly.

I’ve said all along that it is sometimes strange how the mind works. We get a close-up look down into the mind’s corridor on this Thursday, again. Perhaps together we can read between the lines to live these moments as they need to be re-lived. Then, when you come to your own wilderness moments – and you will – perhaps you will remember these accounts, and, perhaps, you will better understand your own journey.

This deeper look comes from another of the scribbled notes we wrote along the way, not realizing at the time how valuable those thoughts would be. It was some time around noon on this Thursday, Day 5, that we wrote these words. I share them here exactly as I roughly scribbled them:

“Page 6 – Thurs. – noon–1 – first time to stop and write – side of the mountain w/80’ drop off – hard, dry hike, an occasional swampy stream – came back to view of the river – wider now, about 80’ below – flowing so peacefully – A thought I had – a peaceful river gives hope, too. Hope increased at the sound of a flowing stream – clear and pure, not brown as many – more black w/millions of black rock along its bottom, some big ones, many in fact – legs still so fatigued – walking very slowly, no long stops. This river will flow this way ‘til time ends – it’s as ceaseless as the love of God – and Marilyn, my love for you.”

How much can be said in 114 words, and how much we can read from between the lines! Beginning at the ending, I should point out that we are not mushy types of people. I am more than a little reluctant, in fact, to share the personal words written here to the amazin’ blonde. But, I share them, because I’ve committed here to trying to be an open book, to show you the things as they were, without censor. Something in me reminds me that this story will serve as an encouragement to some, and that it will strengthen the faith of another.

The ‘terms of endearment’ at the end also point to something key for us here. It shows us that at that point I still felt that life and death still stood in the balance. There was not necessarily a fear of dying out there in the wilderness – that lack of fear I distinctly remember telling Todd one day – nor was there an expectation of it. But there was the keen realization that we were in an environment that provided the greatest threat to our lives than we had ever faced before. One wrong turn, one bad step, one unfortunate encounter – things would have been different.

But even at that moment, as I scribbled that morning’s note, I had no way of knowing that one such life-threatening encounter awaited five hours ahead.

Literally and figuratively, a cliffhanger was on the horizon.