Since Banff was still shrouded in rain, we went up to Yoho National Park to see Emerald Lake, which is noted for its exceptional color. I was trying to be patient, flexible, and cheery, but we still had not seen the mountains we had traveled to the Canadian Rockies to enjoy. Emerald Lake’s water was gorgeous, as you can see, and the visibility was better than we had been having, so in an effort of making the best of things, I suggested that as a special treat we rent a canoe to be out on this amazing water.
We donned our life jackets, and headed out to the middle of the lake where it promptly started to patter with icy cold rain. Undeterred, we continued blithely. Then a deluge let loose torrential rain, pounding loudly down on us. I must confess, I responded by sobbing bitterly, raining within as well as without.
Why had God forsaken me? Wasn’t desire prayer? Hadn’t God put the desire in my heart to be back in these cherished mountains? Why wasn’t I allowed to see them? Why was my honest hope to enjoy these mountains thwarted at every turn? Had I made a God out of them and thus was being punished? But I didn’t believe in a punishing God. I do, however, believe God outlines but is not outlined. I already had tried to let go of my preconceptions about this visit to Banff many times. Why was I taking this all so personally? The Bible says it rains both on the just and the unjust.
Really, I wasn’t just being a whinny baby, although I knew objectively in terms of relative calamities that this one was inconsequentially small. But seeing these mountains again had been viscerally important to me for four decades. I had waited for it patiently, with earnest expectation. Compelled to return for such a long time and looking forward to it with such intensity, I thought God not only knew and endorsed this desire, but had even fostered it. Was I wrong?
I reexamined my motives. I knew I loved the mountains because they were where I first (as an atheist) intuited God. After all, what omniscient power and creative upheaval had created these mountains to render them so beautiful? I also knew I wanted to be back here because it was like a pilgrimage to my deepest connection with both God and my truest original self.
I was sure neither the mountains nor my preconceptions of how things should go were God to me. God was bigger than that. I was being purified– baptized– washed clean– in this water. I could be grateful for that, even exalt in it. Suddenly I knew I could never be denied God, and that would always be enough, since God is actually All. God is Love, and Love loved me, and it would all be okay.
We paddled back at the end of our rented time absolutely sopping and chilled, but thoroughly refreshed. Our daughter, always one to go out and dance in the rain, had thought this drenching canoe jaunt was fun, which proved to me that attitude is very much a key element. The color of the water was astonishing the whole while. And I knew with renewed conviction now that I would have whatever I really needed – a clarity more precious than the best view.