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Rector's Reflections

Rector’s Reflection 6.3

Beloved St. John’s community,

After church Sunday I drove north to Ely to spend a wonderful 36 hours of rest and rejuvenation in the breathtaking beauty that is the northern woods. While I was there, I did a brief tour of Sigurd Olson’s cabin on the shore of Burntside Lake where he came to rest and to enjoy the natural world. For those of you who don’t yet know Sigurd Olson, he was Minnesota’s John Muir—avid canoer, adventurer, explorer, writer, and unapologetic advocate for the wilderness. One of his bestselling works was the Singing Wilderness, and if you haven’t yet read it, I highly recommend it.

Visiting his cabin, which he built out of site from the shore in order to maintain the unspoiled pristine beauty of the shoreline from a canoe, we were introduced to an ancient slab of ledgerock he called the Listening Point. Many of these ledgerocks in northern Minnesota are quite literally a billion years old. The ancient glaciers that created what is now the boundary waters literally scraped away all the soil and the top layers of earth all the way down to the ancient rocks, and deposited that soil in Iowa where It is now some of the richest farmland in the country. All they left were the ancient rocks and water. So now, across unimaginable stretches of the vastness of time, these grandmother rocks sit on the shores of countless waterways in Quetico-Superior. And some of these rocks created the Listening Point for Mr. Olson.

Sigurd knew what it was to become silent, and to listen. He listened to the wind in the red and white pines, in the juniper and maple, balsam fir and aspen. He listened to the loons and the eagles, and the squirrels scolding one another, and the beavers slapping a warning on the water when danger came. He listened deeply to the soul of the natural world and drank in its beauty. It nourished him as little else can.

In our culture, little encourages us to listen. But underneath all the superficial layers of our lives and our days, lie the ancient grandmother rocks who have witnessed countless ages of the creatures of earth. God created these rocks, and all that is. Can you and I become still enough to touch them, to be stilled by the Spirit, and to listen? If we did that, what would we hear?

I encourage you today, to make time to touch a tree, or listen to a crow or a robin, or observe an earthworm or a beetle. Become still, and listen with all of your senses, including your intuition and your heart. What is the Creator whispering to you?


In Christ’s love,