September 1, 2002

Lake Louise

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This week, I had to write only one sermon instead of my usual two and I finished it early, which freed up the end of the week. Yesterday, I drove up to Calgary where I met my parents, who had driven down from Red Deer. We had lunch and then we drove out to Lake Louise, a little over half an hour northwest of Banff, where we hiked from the chalet up to the teahouse on Lake Agnes.

And when I say “up,” I mean up. We used to hike this path every year when I was still living at home, but they’ve made it steeper since I was a teenager. I used to leave my parents in the dust, but this time I don’t think my father was far behind me at any point.

At the top, we had tea (of course!) and large cookies at the tea house. The tea house is built beside Lake Agnes, and it has a great view of the green water of Lake Louise down below. It’s quite high up and the wind off Lake Agnes and the glacier was chilly, so the tea was very welcome.

The descent was much easier and, since I wasn’t panting for breath and expecting my heart to beat its way out of my ribcage as I was on the way up, I was able to observe a lot more and do some thinking. I don’t know how many times I’ve made that hike. My parents must have done it at least thirty times. When I was in high school, I wrote a fantasy novel (which, mercifully, is buried in a closet somewhere along with its rejection slips). At one point in the story, where the characters travel through the mountains, I drew on my memories of the hike up to Lake Agnes. In particular, I remember trying to describe the rocks I saw every year along the trail. Yesterday, I saw some of those rocks again and they brought back a lot of memories of hikes gone by.

One of the difficulties of being single, I find, is that it’s hard to enjoy the beauty of a walk like this. On this trip, I was able to share the joy of the hike with my parents, and there’s always a certain camaraderie with the other hikers, expressed in greetings and occasional conversation. But it would be hard for me to go hiking on my own.

In order to enter fully into the experience, you need someone else with you, someone else who can point things out to you and to whom you can praise the beauty and with whom you can share the experience and relive it again later. As C. S. Lewis says, “All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise…. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” Maybe one of these days, I’ll be able to take my wife on that hike. (Note to self: Get in better shape before then.)

My parents and I parted in Calgary again, and then we drove back home. My legs were aching from the walk, and the descent in particular took its toll on my knees. During the hours in the car on the way home, my back began to ache and I was desperately tired. It felt as if there was a knot in my spine a few vertebrae down from my shoulders. I was hungry when I got home, but I was almost too tired to eat. I did manage to have a bowl of cereal and then I went to bed. It took me a while to get comfortable, but at last I fell into a deep sleep. I was pretty tired and a bit stiff this morning when I preached, though the back pain at least was gone.

And now, as I look at the clock, I realize that it’s time for the second service. Gotta run (well, hobble anyway). I’m not preaching, but after the service I am interviewing a couple who want to join the church.

Posted by John Barach @ 6:35 pm | Discuss (0)

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