Prayer from Nature: The Radiance of a Star

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Photograph: “The Milky Way over Washington’s Column” by Matt Bye

From here in front of Yosemite Chapel, I rest carefully upon the meadow’s boardwalk, gazing upwards through the chilled, night sky. The wood beneath my limbs mirrors the cold air above in temperature. Thousands, no millions of miles forth glows the subtle light of perhaps thousands, no millions of stars. And on my lumber seat, their white embers’ warmth does not reside. The crisp coolness of the air hence brings me to long for the ardor existing abreast these foreign candles. If I were drawn nigh, would my hairs lay flat again under their radiant, warming passion? The sun gives birth to the truth of this simple pleasure.

How I hope to be like these stars in that the closer one peers at my character, the more they find a radiant love exerted from my soul. So I pray, let me too become a candle releasing such undeniable warmth.

Founder of The Network 5.12

Andrew Bellisle

From September 22nd to September 26th, Andrew is releasing a prayer each day.  These prayers are inspired by a particular focus on entities of creation.  We would love for you to subscribe to our blog to receive these as daily devotionals! 

Note on today’s photograph: Matt Bye is a friend of The Network 5.12.  To check out more of his work, visit http://matt-bye.smugmug.com.  To learn even more of Matt’s philosophy on capturing photos, read “Sorry Photographers, You’re not Original,” a post he wrote specifically for The Network 5.12.

Prayer from Nature: The Wisdom of a Tree

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Photograph: “Paper Beats Rock” by Kern Ducote

Not even a photograph captures the precise detail within trees, for even their shadows prove intimidating silhouettes to an artist. I’m always awed by the intricacies of these landmarks. From the dew which rests upon their greenery, to the veins within each leaf, to the delicate patterns of bark spread between their trunks and limbs, to the roots that carve their way in and out of the soil beneath their slumber, their complexity is a wonder to rest beneath, for here I am reminded of the individual character bestowed into everything living.

And the sources of life for these trees, light trickling down through their canopies and water ascending from their roots to the proudest of leaves, collide. I imagine this collision to be a magical meeting of sorts, illuminating the souls of the giants. Perhaps if one were to witness the spectacle, they would gain sight of the deepest of wisdoms, hidden within the heart of a tree, now lit by the glorious explosion from the union of the two. What I would do to glimpse upon that wisdom, obtained from living centuries past. There are even trees that watched Jesus walk…

I pray for the wisdom of a tree. And since I too am delicately made, perhaps it is mine to gain.

Founder of The Network 5.12

Andrew Bellisle

From September 22nd to September 26th, Andrew is releasing a prayer each day.  These prayers are inspired by a particular focus on entities of creation.  We would love for you to subscribe to our blog to receive these as daily devotionals! 

Note on today’s photograph: Kern Ducote is a wonderful friend of The Network 5.12.  To check out more of his work, visit http://kernducote.tumblr.com.

Prayer from Nature: Wind’s Energetic Song

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Photograph: “The Rivers of Mercy” by Matt Bye

The full weight of the wind, released through the languished sigh of where e’re the chambers of captured wind reside within the sky, now heavily breathed forth, is freed into our world. Its force has fallen on the tips of Yosemite pines. Not even their resolute pose holds rest to the determined force of these gusts, bringing their energetic song – a song now coaxing the highest stretched, masculine limbs into a graceful, feminine sway and dance. This is how the wind perhaps best exerts her power: the seduction of the towering greens, converting their shaded canopy into a rustling ocean wave.

I gawk at her might, and I ponder her decision to so perfectly invade the sea o’re my head. How does she always seem to give birth to such life?

I pray, breathe into me oh sighing gales. Please bring my limbs to dance to your song, for I want to live under your seduction, energized as these pines.

Founder of The Network 5.12

Andrew Bellisle

From September 22nd to September 26th, Andrew is releasing a prayer each day.  These prayers are inspired by a particular focus on entities of creation.  We would love for you to subscribe to our blog to receive these as daily devotionals! 

Note on today’s photograph: Matt Bye is a friend of The Network 5.12.  To check out more of his work, visit http://matt-bye.smugmug.com.  To learn even more of Matt’s philosophy on capturing photos, read “Sorry Photographers, You’re not Original,” a post he wrote specifically for The Network 5.12.

Prayer from Nature: The Purpose of a Flower

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Rarely, as a twenty-four-year-old man do I stop to admire flowers. Yet here and now, their determined tackle demands my attention. The ones below me carry an untarnished, solid yellow, creating sharp contrast between the contour of each pedal and the shadows of grey and brown at their base. Why do our eyes hold partial to ambient shades over the dull colors of dirt? I cannot explain. Nevertheless, the draw of a flower can be felt as the aesthetics of their flamboyant bloom reach beyond logic and into our core desire for that which is elegant.

Now to wander deeper into thought about flowers, I ponder their very existence. Their birth through pollination seems the oddest thing, full of chance, especially in this rugged terrain. A lack of water and fertile soil stand against these flowers’ being, yet here they are breathing in the sun, storing moisture from the night, and sprouting roots against the odds. And yet few would admire their pedals saying, “These flowers bare such burdens.” No. For flowers carry a confident peace, holding their provisions near and bursting forth in glory.

I pray to be like these flowers, perfectly content in that which I am given, using both provisions and obstacles to step into that for which I am made, the glory of my maker.

Founder of The Network 5.12

Andrew Bellisle

From September 22nd to September 26th, Andrew is releasing a prayer each day.  These prayers are inspired by a particular focus on entities of creation.  We would love for you to subscribe to our blog to receive these as daily devotionals! 

Completing Halfdome: “Finish the Dome Initiative”

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 5.20.45 PMA new initiative has been formed to complete a world wonder, Halfdome of Yosemite National Park.

The US government has debated for decades whether completing the monolith would be worth the increased visitation from tourists.   With the recent fires of California and last year’s government shutdown, the Disney world of national parks is at a lower attendance than norm, so congress unanimously allocated funds to begin adding granite to the other side of the dome.

The largest challenge of the construction process will be the introduction of cranes to the park. Each crane must reach 5,400 feet tall and hold up to two tons of liquid granite to be poured into the cast that will form a second half. Conservatives estimate the process to cost around $712 million.

Building will begin next Spring, around April 1st, 2015 and end 6 months later, by October 1st. This would be a record for such a humongous undertaking.

As of now, Yosemite Valley will remain open during construction, but experts are considering the dangers of bringing tourists into such a large construction zone. More to come on this later…

– The Network 5.12

Clearly, there is no actual “Finish the Dome Initiative.” This joke arose from a conversation amongst friends while living in Yosemite National Park. It amazed us that tourists would arrive to the park asking questions like, “When do they turn the waterfalls on and off?” or “When will they finish Halfdome.” The over-arching idea of such a satire is meant to encourage an appreciation for how creation is already displayed, and to remind us that it is our job to protect this planet, guarding such wonders as Yosemite and Halfdome.

More on The Network 5.12

Driven by love, The Network 5.12 aims to build a community of outdoor enthusiasts encouraging physical and spiritual growth.  Our blog is one way that we fulfill this mission statement.  To join in that network of enthusiasts, please subscribe on the left side of our home page, read more of our blog, and share with those who would be interested.  Thanks for reading!

Levitation 29

A gentle ember rose amidst the surrounding cliffs. It was past 5 am just outside of Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, and we emerged from our tents focused on the ensuing climb.

Nothing disturbed the serenity, not even the voices of other rising climbers. The moment was impenetrable, the calmness frozen into the morning air.

Things stayed this way for quite some time. My climbing partner for the day, Rett, jet-boiled water and added it to oatmeal and coffee grinds. We drove into the canyon. We took a last oh-so-precious stop in the porter next to the trailhead. And then we hiked the long but magnificent approach to the base of Levitation 29, our looming challenge of the day. Through it all, serenity remained.

Driving in to Red Rock

Forecast: 68 and sunny.

Jacket: still in the car.

I believed it would only get warmer. And more importantly, I embraced the idea that the morning calm would last the day.

I was wrong.

Each pitch of the climb took us higher into the whipping wind. Apparently, Red Rock Canyon is known for causing chapped lips, but the wind became a larger issue than dry skin.

Starting out on the 1st Pitch

Because of my idiotic choice to leave the jacket behind, my discomfort developed into a more prevailing concern. What was once a mild shiver steadily formed into a more and more violent shake.

The wind was becoming so incessant that I forgot the morning tranquility. Calmness was gone. Painful, howling chaos was all I breathed in. I even no longer noticed the incredible journey of the climb I was on, making each move brainlessly, distracted by the gales that imprisoned my attention.

I was cold. To be honest, I was miserable – a descriptor I have never before used on a climb.

Uncomfortable, missing out on the climb, and even unable to effectively communicate with Rett on the route, it became clear:

The wind tyrannically ruled the day.

But delicately tucked within these grueling hours of climbing, were a few distinct, beloved moments on the rock. Their brevity made them no less adored.

In these cherished seconds, for when the wind would cease, warmth was restored, the glorious views of the canyon faded into my vision, I could properly call commands to my climbing partner, and overall, life would return with vivacious color. I was taught a lesson in this.

Chaos, noise, and discomforts – we so often bring them upon ourselves.

Whether we choose to leave behind our jacket, fill our iCalendars to the brim with meetings and projects, keep the television playing in our homes for the entirety of a day, or constantly place ourselves in the public to feel less alone, we are deciding each day to besiege ourselves with loud, distracting, and ultimately harmful winds.

Sadly, we get so caught up in progress, that unnecessary clamor becomes the norm. We don’t even notice the destructive behavior of our busy-ness anymore.

I am grateful for the rest, for the shelter from the wind that consumed my attention on Levitation 29. The quiet gave me a new appreciation for stillness.

But I now wonder how often I become voluntarily captive to other winds of the world. And I wonder – what serenity am I missing because of their howl.

Andrew Bellisle

Founder of The Network 5.12

Levitation Summit

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The Adventurist Generation: Hypocritical Anti-Materialists

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“I need coffee.”

“He really needs a hair cut.”

“She needs different shoes with that dress.”

“I need bubble gum.”

…really?  Do you?  Over the past week, I heard these statements that made me internally vomit.  Anytime I hear the word “need” so seriously misused – as when it is paired with bubble gum – I’m gonna throw up in my mouth a little bit.

That being said, even amidst the “I need bubble gum” statements, I am thankful for my generation, or at least for my community, which seems to be becoming a less and less materialistic group, increasingly aware of the lack of “need” we truly have here in the US.

It is encouraging to me that I see more folks focused on experience and adventure instead of purchasing some new fancy object that shows how rich they are.

Dare I coin us the Adventurist Generation?

Maybe there is hope for us after all.

Perhaps I won’t have to cringe at these materialistic “I need” statements anymore because we will quit flippantly attaching the word “need” to material objects like bubble gum and haircuts.  Maybe we will start placing our focus on experience and adventure, things like long hikes through the mountains and nights spent under the stars.

But as much as I would love to see that change occur, I fear that it might not solve our real problem.

We, as anti-materialist, adventure seeking people, must learn to be careful, or we may find that:

“I need coffee” gets replaced with “I need to book a plane flight.”

“He needs a hair cut” turns into “He needs to hike through Europe.”

“She needs different shoes” becomes “She needs to go skydiving.”

 “I need bubble gum” is interchanged with “I need to rock climb a grade harder.”

So what am I saying?

Coffee, haircuts, shoes and bubble gum are not inherently bad.  Coffee is great.  Haircuts are snazzy.  Shoes get you places. And bubble gum is tasty.

The actions of traveling, hiking, skydiving, or climbing aren’t wrong either.

But the emphasis we place on them as a need instead of a privilege can be detrimental to their true essence and enjoyment.

If we as an anti-materialist generation decide we always need  a new adventure, a new sport, a new girlfriend, or new experience, then we are just as needy as those who put all of their attention on the material.  We are hypocrites.

I find myself doing this all the time.

Judging the materialists.  Being the adventurist.

But neither a material object nor an adventure should be a necessity in my life.

So here it is.  It’s simple.

Be grateful for the things you own and the places you go.  Enjoy the moments surrounding them.  But most importantly recognize that owning stuff and experiencing adventures are privileges, not necessities.

From a Hypocritical Anti-Materialist,

Andrew Bellisle

Founder of The Network 5.12

What are ridiculous things you’ve heard people say they “needed?”  What are things you might even feel you “need” but don’t?  We’d love to hear from you.  Just use the comments.