Muddy Creek

Continuing on July’s resolve to be more selfishly selfless, three more days without the burdens of modern life fit in nicely between five day work blocks. Those unfamiliar with the trek experience may question my fashion choices above, however those familiar know the struggle. Youth members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints between the ages of 14 to 18 are given the opportunity to recreate the Mormon Pioneer trek to the west in the hopes of a physical, mental, and or spiritual building experience coming out of walking these historic trails.

Over the course of a year, adult volunteers have empowered the youth to conceptualize, design, and implement this trek experience. As the chairs of the activities committee, Stefani and I assembled our dream team of friends to help curate excitement to get youth excited about trek, and deliver experiences on trek to keep them engaged. Since we first met as a committee, we’ve been a formidable force in not only figuring out how the youth can have a good time, but how in the process we could have one too. And having spent three days on the trail with our committee, I’m immensely grateful for their love for one another.

While the physical preparations were the easiest for me, the spiritual ones were not. Walking for miles on end is something that doesn’t take the wind out of my sails, even if an indoor soccer injury somehow presents itself at a most inopportune time. Thinking about what I’m hoping to gain out of this experience spiritually was something I had not planned for. In spite of my shortsightedness, the previous week flying in the Idaho backcountry helped channel my focus on what being spiritual means. If only I hadn’t lost that new book from Rainn Wilson, maybe I would have had some more thoughts on it.

Regardless of my preparations, or lack thereof, these moments devoid of instant gratification help recalibrate my focus on truly what is important. One of our little activities on the last mile of the trek was to leave some Capri Suns out on the trail for the passing families. Camouflaging coolers and nestling within the tight quarters of scattered sagebrush, hearing the praises from the youth for this well-thought miracle made the hour of sweating laying still on uneven ground worthwhile. And for the youth having completed almost seven miles of walking in the heat of the afternoon devoid of the typical Wyoming wind, it was well received.

Other experiences during these three tiring days further expanded internal dialogues on spirituality. While the youth and their trek families bonded around campfires talking about life, about love, and everything in between, our committee found times walking the trail to get to know one another better, talk about defining moments in our own lives, and to expand upon our own experiences during the last few months with mini-devotionals and heartfelt moments smiling at the sunrise behind wind-blown sunburnt faces.

Having been quite skeptical of what trek is, I left Muddy Creek with a newfound appreciation for the limited time in our lives, and a new drive to focus said limited time on eternity. Physically tired, mentally strained, spiritually overwhelmed. Selfishly selfless, curbing old habits and curating new ones, appreciating the finite while focusing on the infinite.