Grateful for the Wilderness

Several years ago, in this post on my personal blog, I wrote about my "Gratitude for the Wilderness."

I'm sure none of you would be surprised to hear me expressing gratitude for nature. That's my real go-to place for renewal. But the Wilderness in this post is more of a metaphor for hardship. This was written during a time of deep struggle and crisis in our family. A time when things were going wrong and seemed to be spinning rapidly out of control. The loneliness, the dangers, and the perils of the wilderness could easily be compared to what was going on in our lives at that point. The crags and briars and the thorns...that's the kind of wilderness we were journeying through!

That year, as Thanksgiving approached, however, I found myself profoundly grateful. I realized I was as grateful for the challenges themselves as I was for the blessings and the miracles that followed in their wake. I was grateful for the lessons I was learning (this was no slacker course, but an instensive seminar!) and—believe it or not—of the sacrifices we chose to make.

You can read the whole post, but i think the last few paragraphs sum up the ideas best:

"This year our oldest son spent two months in the wilderness. It was a much-needed instrument of change. The beating down of the earth's elements seem to soften his heart in ways nothing else had succeeded in doing.

At some point every one of us, just like fairy tale characters as well as prophets and patriarchs, will have to pass through a personal wilderness. Perhaps several, both literal and figurative. These wildernesses are frightening places, full of unknowns, full of danger...but often harboring wise leaders, helpful guides...and always effecting change.

This year my gratitude for the wilderness is profound. I am grateful for the progress our son made there, for the peace and reflection that comes to me when I escape there myself, and most especially for the wilderness Christ was willing to enter in our behalf. I am acutely aware of the fear that comes as we leave our personal comfort zones to embark on a journey. I am in awe of the peace that is offered, often in the very face of life-threatening danger. And I rejoice in the miracle and power of change."



   Jana Winters Parkin is an artist, writer, teacher, and adjunct art professor at UVU. She and her husband have 3 kids and 2 dogs, and she spends every day possible rejuvenating her soul in Utah's glorious mountains. She writes at and exhibits her work at

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