G.K Chesterton, Adrenaline Junkies and John Muir

An adventure is, by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not something we choose. – G.K. Chesterton

The naturalist John Muir was known for climbing trees in the middle of thunderstorms for the sake of experiencing the excitement and wonderment of creation. He wanted to get close to the action. Maybe he is the guy we have to thank for extreme sports. A real adrenaline junkie, Muir refused to lose an opportunity to experience nature in its rawest, purest form.

Tonight our family just sat through an impressive thunderstorm that rattled the windows, knocked out the electricity and made the cats (and a couple of the humans nervous). There is no temptation to run out in the midst of this storm to get a better look nor are we tempted to climb one of the few remaining trees on the ranch.

While I don’t advocate climbing trees in thunderstorms I do appreciate Muir’s wild attitude toward life. For him life was not something simply to lived, survived or gotten through but something to be savored, enjoyed and engaged.

That last word brings me back to Chesterton, engaged. It is true that most of life’s greatest adventures come not when we are looking for them. Adventures don’t come as planned precisely because they are not planned. Adventures are wild, tricky things that we have learned to avoid. Their messiness keeps us good folk from enjoying them too much since we want to have our adventures on our own terms conveniently within the time period of our choosing.

But that’s just it. There is never a good time and it is never on our own terms.

So, instead of avoiding the numerous adventures that stretch us, frighten us, and make us better people why don’t we engage them fully and without compromise. God remains a big God who can handle all the contingencies of our lives. God also remains our father who wants what is best for us. When the adventure “chooses us” we shouldn’t think that this takes God by surprise. And we should engage.

Perhaps this quote by TR is a bit overused but for good reason:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”


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