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Backpacking with the SaintsWilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice$
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Belden C. Lane

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199927814

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199927814.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 December 2021

Community: Lower Rock Creek and Teilhard de Chardin

Community: Lower Rock Creek and Teilhard de Chardin

13 (p.168) Community: Lower Rock Creek and Teilhard de Chardin
Backpacking with the Saints

Belden C. Lane

Oxford University Press

I’m up for vigils, but the monks are still asleep. They were noisy last night at compline. The peepers were nearly as loud as the bullfrogs. The whole choir chanted like mad as stars came out over the creek. When I first set up camp along this quiet Ozark stream, I hadn’t realized I’d entered a cloister full of exuberant frogs cheered by yesterday’s rain. Their enthusiastic interpretation of the Psalms made me think of the deep-throated chanting of Tibetan Buddhist monks. The sound echoed off the steep rock walls where Cathedral Canyon narrows at this point. Its acoustical effect seemed to take their performance to new heights of liturgical excellence. The night sounds of a Missouri forest are often exhilarating. A humid summer evening offers a riot of jazz improv, as raucous as last night’s monkish choir. The jam begins with the soft background rhythm of grasshoppers rubbing their legs against their wings, punctuated by the loud clicking of cicadas. Green tree frogs then add a nasal quank, quank, quank to the high-pitched call of the peepers and the rasping, vibrating prreep of chorus frogs. Think of a fingernail running over the teeth of a comb. Then, just as things are warming up, the bullfrogs—Missouri’s state amphibians—launch into the deep jug-o-rum that resonates from their great puffed cheeks. It’s Louis Armstrong on a late-night riff in a crowded New Orleans bar. Lower Rock Creek runs through a narrow gorge cut into the rock of the St. Francois Mountains. Some people call it Cathedral Canyon, others Dark Hollow. It has no official name. It’s not on most maps. But it’s one of my favorite, most secluded places in the Ozarks. Driving down in the rain yesterday I was happy to find the road into the trailhead in worse shape than ever, the trail itself almost overgrown. The blackberry bushes are full, spider webs undisturbed. Not many guests seek out the solitude of this cloistral setting. It’s just another forgotten Missouri hollow.

Keywords:   adoration, birds, community, deer, evolution, frogs, pantheism, snakes, solitude, ubuntu, wonder

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