A debut book offers Christian reflections on daily life and nature.
Writing from the perspective of a lay pastor at a Lutheran church in North Dakota, Johnson is quite clear about his interests. Hunting, canoe building, and snowshoeing are the types of activities with which the author enjoys filling his days. And, as he argues, these outdoor hobbies are prime opportunities for spiritual advancement. From waiting in a hunting blind for a deer to paddling a canoe, the author draws connections from a variety of his favorite pursuits to Christian lessons. What might, for example, a raging Western snowstorm teach a person about God? As Johnson asserts: “I love blizzards because they remind me of who is in control.” Perusing such lessons in a series of short chapters (usually ending with motivational biblical quotes, such as “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Luke 12:22”), the reader comes away with an understanding that opportunities to reflect on the workings of God are almost everywhere in the natural world. In fact, it is the wilderness that allows one to “stop, recognize, and pay attention.” Although such diverse endeavors can be of varying interest (descriptions of searching for flint are about as exciting as they sound), the less familiar the reader is with things like rock climbing, the more there is to learn. Readers seeking an escape from their busy lives may find the notion of silent retreats—in which participants spend time alone in the woods for certain periods—to be a refreshing idea. Even for those who do not already agree with the statement that “we need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness,” many of the author’s depictions of his hobbies prove persuasive enough for the open-minded to want to give them a shot. Readers who already see God’s wonder during bear hunting season may not get much out of this book. But those who never thought to draw a parallel between the two may wind up coming away with new ruminations.
This work delivers a sharp, outdoorsy look at a world full of spiritual marvels.