I hiked Zion Narrows last week with my daughter and a group of friends. If you aren’t familiar with the hike, one literally hikes in the river for 60-70% of the time, depending on water levels. We hiked from the bottom up, going several miles up the canyon. The weather was perfect with no flash flood possibility and moderate temperatures. There were hundreds and hundreds of people in the Narrows that day, picking their way up through the river to see the towering sandstone walls and beautiful effects of light and shadow. We all looked like ants in the huge landscape-creeping and clamoring around trying to find the best way up the river.
My husband taught me how to read rivers while teaching me to fly fish (teaching a spouse to fly fish is a story for another time). I knew where the deep holes would be, I knew where the fish would be, if there were any in the river. Fish do not sit in the low, fast water and choose to stay in deep water just below rocks where little energy is used to eat passing food. I noticed many people would hike on the shallow, slippery, rocky parts of the river, places where the bottom was visible and the water was low, loud and fast. I suppose it is because it is easy to see one’s feet in the shallow water as opposed to the deeper spots. Seeing one’s feet created a comfort level that sometimes led to falling.
We chose to hike and cross the river where we could not see the bottom. The rocks were less slippery, the water was still and the path less traveled. We only walked into a deep hole once, but that was okay. I thought the trip was more enjoyable taking the chance on the still waters and unseen rocks.
Life can be like the river and we have to choose to tread through what we can see, even if it may not be as safe, or choose to walk in deeper waters. It is a leap of faith to walk in those deep waters, taking chances and making changes where we cannot see obstacles and outcomes as clearly. Many times, though, those deep water walks of faith give us the stillness we seek.