God is the moment, God is right now, and the devil is five seconds ago and five seconds from now. The devil is a thing that is trying to keep you out of God’s reach by making you think about what just happened and what’s about to happen. Because God wants you here, right now.
— Dan Harmon paraphrasing Sam Christensen

There are experiences I've undergone that bring me beyond my body, into my spirit; songs have changed my life; a single sentence uttered on a recording has changed my brain shape; a kiss has filled my heart full to burst; more than any of these, the pristine wild spaces remind me of the simple truths in the beautiful show of biology, but also reveals to me an ineffable love pulling the curtain strings. I have two experiences that stand out against multitudes.

The first, I was reconnecting with an old friend and speaking vulnerably with a new stranger. I like my friend; she's dangerous and unpredictable, like a natural phenomenon, and like nature every encounter is a quest. We went hiking and came to a clearing, a big tree with one massive horizontal branch running parallel with the warm, slow Yakima River. For a timeless eternity we left our shoes behind and heeded the call. We confessed our heartbreaks with our toes brushing along rocks and algae; we remembered our half-decade old history and kicked up clouds of silt; we smiled and laughed and cried and frowned in the presence of an impossibly powerful moving body of water, a landmark older than our ancestors that will long outlive the three of us. We stood forever, our souls hanging out. Then we left. But we never really left. For as long as one of us remembers, that fleeting moment will live everlasting.

The second, I was with my closest friends parking our car downstream of where we'd start our float down the Yakima River. We relaxed and talked and tanned and had fun letting the river take us wherever we were going; then we realized we had parked inland and didn't know where on the river bank we'd evacuate. My companions saw our magical flight transform into a practical threat while I surrendered to the obvious metaphor. We were out for hours, scraped up and way over-schedule, before we found a good place to land after seeing a sign of civilization in the form of a house. One friend scouted out ahead while the rest of us stayed behind. Anxiety overtook us and we went out after him. We came to a fork in the road and were headed down the right path, which was wrong; just before we'd get further astray, he came jogging down the left path calling after us.

We all had a story, an invitation to get back to that feeling of peace and panic, getting lost and being found, relenting to the river and carving out our own way out. That night my boss condescended to me about being late to rehearsal, at a church no less. He missed the invitation. I had something new, something I had to go out to find and could give to him, to anyone; so he never experienced what I had seen & heard & felt & smelled & tasted in my time of communion with the earth. Some men waste their time worshipping clocks, and miss their chance for fellowship with God.

But God is time; God is in the wonder of creation, in all things, through and throughout; God is in you at all times, most evident when you are with good company on noble adventures, marveling in the awe of everything; bring down the kingdom of heaven wherever you are, here, right now.


Adam Papes