Micah and I got on the trail in the Snowy Range just after 9 a.m. We soon encountered snow, raging winds, and an incline that mocked me every inch of the way. I stopped compulsively. "Whose genius idea was this?" I shouted back to Micah. He laughed, knowing the idea had been all mine. Within twenty minutes I put on a stocking cap, hooded shirt, and wind breaker to stop the throbbing pain in my left ear. A couple of hours in I twisted my ankle when my foot fell through a patch of snow I mistook for solid ground. I scraped my shin while scaling giant boulders covered in melting snow (oh, wait, patches of ice!). There were other near misses and minor catastrophes along the way, all of them punctuated by my bitching and moaning.
When we finally arrived at the summit, 12,013 feet up, I wanted to blow past the spectacular view and get on with our descent. But then he appeared, a red fox with black tipped ears and penetrating eyes. He smiled at us. Yes, actually smiled. We stood not ten feet apart, him with his curious gaze and us with our mouths agape. I hit Micah on his arm, "It's mystical!" And later, when the fox moved even closer, "It's a miracle!"
I'm certain the red fox heard my loud rants long before I appeared. A fox has excellent hearing. It can, for example, hear rodents digging underground. Yet, the red fox didn't run away in horror because an angry mess of a woman was coming. He smiled knowingly as if to acknowledge, you are who you are. And in that moment I actually believed it was enough.
I remember a famous author writing that animals, of the wild variety, only visit us when we silence our anxious minds. Our unholy spirits drive them away. This made sense to me. As a pastor of nearly ten years, I preached many a sermon on the perils of living an anxious and unholy life. Then I went up a mountain and discovered that holiness isn't about being perfect or even peaceful. Nor is it a state of transcendence we achieve by overcoming our humanity. It is, rather, that space where we are exactly as we are; not perfect or imperfect but true.
You are who you are, and that, dear friends is enough.