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Episcopal Church in Minnesota
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The BWCAW as Sacred Ground
by The Rev Roger Weaver

One of the reasons that I think the BWCAW is sacred ground is the very difficulty I have in explaining why.

Any kind of God talk doesn't come easily. We're forced to use analogies, similes and metaphors.

And if we are lucky and find a really good and strong metaphor, we usually end up qualifying ourselves with "but even more than that." For example, I want to start out saying that I experience God in the BWCAW, and immediately I find that I want to qualify it by, "but not merely as Creator and Sustainer of life", or in "the beautiful sunsets and sunrises" or "but in the totality of the wilderness." I experience the divine in the life itself: in the very landscape of rock, water and forest.

It is the very wildness of it all, it is a place that is not under human control or management. It is life in the raw without the trappings and protections of civilization. A canoe trip, a journey into the BWCAW is a journey into life; It's like taking off all our clothes and plunging into the cold deep and clear water of Kekekabic Lake. Holding our breath, we ease below the surface, to find a vision underwater that is incomparable in any other lake. The water is so clear that we can see further underwater than we ever dreamed possible. So too in the BWCAW we see clearly the interdependence of all things as "inclusive community", and we see life as homeostasis or the harmony as the process of achieved balance. It's so clear and so welcoming. Like the good hospitality, it comes to us. And yet, like the horizons of underwater lake Kekekabic, there are shadows of unknown drifting off in all directions. They come to us as fear and sometimes even terror, and so we surface gasping for air and safety, with the new knowledge that life is far more than we dreamed and that the unknown surrounds us with mystery.

The Rev. Roger Weaver, now retired, was the priest for three Episcopal congregations, the East Range Episcopal Congregations, located on the Iron Range and covering most of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, when he originally wrote this article in October 1996. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Roger Weaver or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


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