Brotherhood in Place of Religion

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An exploration of my personal spirituality, based on actual events.

Submitted: December 25, 2011

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Submitted: December 25, 2011



My feet hurt, my sweat was uncomfortably sticky, and the grunts and moans of the others were a barely tolerable nuisance. There were ten of us, three adults and seven kids ranging from my mere fourteen years all the way to our seventeen year old leader. Boy scouts all of us, on a two week backpacking trip in New Mexico. It was our last day before we got back to base camp, we’d only been hiking an hour, but really we’d been hiking two weeks, always carrying all of our equipment on our backs.

We were a haggard and weary bunch. The air was dank with body odor. We were each too exhausted to talk so we were all alone with out own thoughts. But we were all together as brothers, and there was no silence, instead the steady rhythmic beating of our continued march.

We were thoroughly emersed in nature. We’d been so far from civilization for so long we’d forgotten the meaning of the word. I didn’t mind. I much prefer the stark green of the trees agains a blazing blue sky. The muddied white of a snow drift still not melted even though it was June. The light chirping song of some bird you can never seem to find. The sharp scent of truly fresh air. These are the things I love. This is true beauty, or so I thought.

As we rounded the top of the hill we’d been on for what seemed like a century, I saw something I’ve never seen before. We came to a place marked on the map as “Window Rock”. It was a monolithic rock outcropping that overlooked the main valley where base camp was. As I sat atop the rock I was thoroughly breath taken by what I saw.

A flood of shapes and colors more spectacular than the greatest work of art any mere mortal could have ever created. Below I saw a green backdrop of infinitely varying shades. It was fractured by stark blue streams and rivers. There were 3 lakes, scattered randomly, but with purpose, each one looking almost as if it wasn’t even real. The blue color seemed almost imaginary because of how it was distorted by the massive distance on that humid day. I saw the brown of base camp, the place they call “tent city”, was nothing more than the accidental slip of a painters brush. There was a plane shining silver flying below us across the valley, like a firefly blazing against the light of day. It was a beauty that touched my soul, and brought a tear of joy to my eye.

In that moment I realized something I’d never really believed before. There absolutely is a higher power. Perhaps not the god that a Christian or Muslim would believe in, maybe not even one similar at all to a man, but there is something out there creating all of this with meticulous purpose. So insignificant are the things man can make, a plane, a city, nothing in contrast to the vast pastel painting I beheld that day unfolding before me. It made me feel immeasurable joy as well as deep sadness simultaneously. It moved me in a way that art should but rarely does.

I never wanted to leave. I sat there staring at what I saw. I experienced a lifetime of beauty, peace, and love simply sitting there eating my lunch. Our fearless leader’s call to fall in came like a doctors news of a fatal disease. As I stood up I had the feeling as if falling of a cliff, that somehow this was an awful thing happening. We marched on towards base camp in the same silence as before and as we got farther from that magical place called window rock I felt a part of myself slipping away. But I did not mourn because whatever I lost was replaced by the brotherhood I had found with those other nine men those long two weeks. That brotherhood was more precious to me than any breathtaking view could ever be.


© Copyright 2018 Coop Van Auken. All rights reserved.

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