Sunday, May 5, 2013


Hiking back to our car after an unnerving night of back country camping in Arches National Park, Joel asked me a question. "Would you ever camp by yourself?" I thought about it for a minute and answered "I would like to say that I would, but if I am really honest with myself I have to say no. I would freak myself out way too much lying there alone at night."

Joel and Me hiking back from a night camping in Arches

Not even a month later, I found myself back in the desert, where plans had changed and due to unforeseen circumstances...I would be camping alone. I was determined that I would not miss the opportunity to participate in a workshop with Carol Stalcup at Ghost Ranch just because I would have to sleep alone in Big Agnes. So, I stuck to my plan and I camped alone for 6 nights. 

Ghost Ranch features all the best of the desert marvels. It is an incredible sight to behold and there is no question why Georgia O'Keeffe was so inspired by it. Not only is it a secluded, wondrous, natural place to visit for the scenery, it also hosts dozens of workshops every year for wandering pilgrim heart's like mine. 

 I took a class called "Wisdom Begins with Wonder" which intentionally taught me to tap into the present moment and allow myself the gift of God's provision right then and there. I became acutely aware that the oppertunity to camp alone was very much part of that provision.

The experience of camping by myself was a lesson in vulnerability. I felt stripped of all the things that I could control in my life and truly had to lean on God, not just for my physical protection on those dark nights, but also my emotional protection. I prayed for peace so that I could sleep through the eery night noises and I prayed for rest from stressful dreams that leaped out of the anxiety of imagined enemies. Just like I believed, God answered each of those prayers.
Me and Big Agnes camping alone at Ghost Ranch

The vulnerability of the night leaked into the sunshine of the day and I found myself tapping into deep wounds and untold stories as I participated in the course with Stalcup. The marriage of a mental/emotional journey through vulnerability to the physical manifestation of that vulnerability, forced me to deal with all those feelings that I avoid, excuse and protect myself from. It was a powerful adventure in tapping into myself. Really claiming the raw, unfiltered realities of my being. 

I have spent the better part of my life refusing to admit my own vulnerabilities. However, scripture suggests that vulnerability is fertile soil for growth and new life. Often we are most transformed through pain and discomfort. I have discovered that if I am truly committed to authenticity and present-minded living then I have to lean into discomfort. I have to be vulnerable to connect to the Spirit. When this happens I grow. And you know what? When I grow through vulnerability it is always for the better.

How can you lean into vulnerability more often?