Practicing Discomfort

by Matthew Tennant,

chair-acrobatBeing uncomfortable does not come naturally. We tend to avoid it. If a chair is wobbly or has a lumpy seat, we move to another seat, or we try to replace it. When it is cold, we wear coats. When it is hot, we seek shade or air conditioning. No one likes to be uncomfortable.

A 1916 brochure said, “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” Little discomforts can distract us from the bigger picture. Many years ago, I was hiking in Isle Royale National Park. The friction between my heels and a new pair of boots wore debilitating blisters on the back of each foot. At the end of a long day of hiking, when I saw the blisters, I could think of nothing else. The park has wolves and moose. It feels like one of those thin places where the veil between earth and heaven lifts slightly. Instead of seeing God in a wilderness that exceeds superlatives, I could only think of my feet.   …read more

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