Our community has a motto that—while grammatically odd—is functionally accurate. A billboard on the highway entering Chilliwack says, “The Great Outside.” It sticks to the roof of my mind every time I read it. The idea is correct, though. Loads of opportunities exist for exploring the natural surroundings, and the locals love to be out in the middle of it all. Fishing, biking, paragliding, and hiking venues are all within easy access, and there is a host of other activities as well.
The City of Chilliwack recently partnered with the Chilliwack Park Society and the Fraser Valley Mountain Biker’s Association to build a multi-use trail park just east of the city. The trails of the Community Forest meander up and around the Eastern Hillsides, offering natural solace for various fitness levels. It has been a community effort to create this park. Residents have been encouraged to come out on organised build days as volunteer trail builders and a local school’s woodworking class built a bridge on one of the upper trails.
However, on the day this photo was taken I was the only person out there. It was an overcast, showery, afternoon in early September so most people were at work or school. The solitude was palpable. Something about being surrounded by all the signs of a community in the silence of the forest made this more than just a walk in the fresh air; it was a reflection of life. A time in life when you walk a path that the soles of many others have worn, but you walk it alone.
The challenge in this season is to allow the solitude to do its work; to soak in it like a healing spa. One must understand that being alone does not necessarily predicate loneliness. In nature—in silence—there is a voice. In the solitude and stillness, there is One who will remind us of the emptiness that swells past our ability ignore it. There is also the only One who will ever be sufficient to fill it beyond our ability to contain it.