Against the Cabin Wall

September 3, 2012 § 34 Comments

I am not sure what it means to believe in God.  I cannot offer any clear definition of spirituality.   But this I can say.


Thunder Lake sits in a bowl high in the Rockies.  It is a natural amphitheater, ringed by peaks.  Breathtaking grandeur.

That day a storm had blown in.  Deep snow.  Nearly whiteout conditions.   Howling winds across the lake.

The small wooden patrol cabin locked.  No shelter inside.  I huddled against the cabin wall on the side away from the wind. As I pressed my body against the wood, I felt fear.  Alone.  Isolated.

I looked across the lake, through the swirling snow, and saw the mountains, rising up into the gray sky.  In the next moment, the wind died, its howl drifting down into the valley.  The quiet came.  A dim, filtered sunlight pushed its way into the bowl.

Fear left my body like a sweat.  Washed away, gone.  In its place came a sense of well-being, a preternatural calm- the sense of safety and security that I can only imagine last belonged to me as a small child in my mother’s arms.

I felt no anxiety.  I wanted for nothing.  I was right where I was supposed to be- still huddled against that cabin wall, still hours from the trailhead, still deep snow ahead.  Still alone.  But not alone.


These words are as good as I can do to describe that moment.  But they’re not good enough.  That feeling that day was more.  Beyond words.  Not to be pinned down with language or explained by reason.  Just to be felt- and to be lived.

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§ 34 Responses to Against the Cabin Wall

  • Give me that breathtaking moment, standing alone in the midst of the Rocky Mountains majesty, shivering, not because of the cold, but because of the excitement, the thrill of feeling the purity of winter, the stinging kisses of snowflakes on my face, the crisp tendrils of wind that brush and bring the color to my cheeks…..What a moment that completes me! As it is now, I am standing shoulder to shoulder with nameless, faceless people who rush madly to and fro, like ants in an anthill, in a hot, dry, desert, manicured-to-the-hilt, corporate city. I just feel….dead….here…… I enjoyed your writing and the environment it put me into.

    • Thomas Ross says:


      So happy to receive your message.

      Yes, I often struggle as well to hold these feelings when I am in the maddening and soul-dead places of “civilization.” Being in the mountains in a snowstorm or standing on a beach watching a storm move across the water- these are places of natural spirituality for me. Easier there to be present and alive.

      But I do believe that I can feel alive, strong, and at peace in any place. Only strength, presence needed. Living that belief though is often hard.

      Thanks so much for the read and the reply.


  • smithdavid says:

    excellently captured tom. to try and rationalize such an experience with words would be foolish.

  • Robin says:

    I think you described it well. I’ve had a similar experience and have been mostly unable to put it into words.

  • I have felt that, I have been there and I understand. 🙂

  • brendamarroy says:

    I got it, Tom. The meaning and experience came through the spaces between the words. Thank you for touching my heart.

  • neilsbarn says:

    Spirituality by its very nature should be indefinable in the way we usually try, in order to grasp meaning of. Described by example: which you do so perfectly here, resonates more deeply and truly.

    • Thomas Ross says:

      I agree. Example is often the best form of explanation. There’s still a gap between the words and the experience itself, but examples can help narrow that gap, I believe.

      Thank you for the read and the thoughtful response.


  • julienmatei says:

    So…what you confirm here, is that Source makes itself best known through deepest, but most immediate emotion. on that level of presence, doubt is not to be found…

    No thought…no word…just pure knowing…

  • lthibault11 says:

    It sounds like you experienced a profound event that is destined to remain between you and the universe. Sometimes words just aren’t enough. But you will always know.


  • jillbware says:

    Yes, I was right there with you too. It takes a very special writer to remove all of the artifice, all of the places to hide, and write from a place of aware, and deep reflection. Even in feeling the language fail to stand up to the depth of the experience, it’s lovely how it attempts to anyways – in all of those spaces in between, left open in the honest communication of your writing. You allow us to be there with you, because you have created space for us to sit, and listen, and experience it too. It’s remarkable, and beautiful. Thank you so much. Jill

    • Thomas Ross says:

      This wonderful response is thoughtful, lovingly crafted, and exquisite. Filled with your emotion. Another form of your artistry. And so meaningful to me.

      Jill, thank you so much.


  • projectwhitespace says:

    I know what you mean about words not being good enough to express a spiritual experience such as you are describing here. I know what you mean about them being inexpressible. The wholeness of it. The purity and completeness in those moments. . . And here I am wanting to put it in words and it is not enough. You reminded me of where I have been and where I need to return. Thank you.

  • artyelf says:

    Dear Tom,
    Moments like these are to be treasured, and you have honored your experience so well here.
    I felt myself next to that cabin with you, appreciating the peace of that moment.
    Thankyou, Elyn

  • Anne says:

    Tom in so few words you describe a powerful life changing spiritual experience. You manage to take your reader on that journey with you. I am so looking forward to the day you publish your book.



  • Letting go of fear allowed you to believe in something bigger than the elements. You crossed over. I recognise the feeling that can not be put into mere words.

    • Thomas Ross says:


      What you say resonates with my memories of that day. But again, for me the words can only evoke a rough form of something pure and transcendent. Maybe that was a “crossing over.” Not sure. Transformational certainly.

      Thank you for the thoughtful message.


  • aallegoric says:

    It’s beautiful how you find words to describe such an overwhelming moment.

    • Thomas Ross says:

      Thank you for your kind response.

      I admire your writing, you know. Often harrowing, always honest. Possessing a beauty, even when thoughts are dark. So thank you also for your great work.


  • Cassie says:

    For something that is very hard to put into words, you do a brilliant job! 🙂

  • Robyn Lee says:

    Your words are indeed powerful Tom… can sense the shift from fear to calm and peace that you experienced at that cabin wall. Such a spiritual moment ~ soothing in many ways! Thank you for sharing such a personal transformational moment with us here! Blessings ~ R

    • Thomas Ross says:


      It was a transformational moment. It happened on a “retreat” to the Rockies several years ago- just me and the mountains- long, hard day hikes, then back to my cabin on the edge of RMNP. My life was changing- the journey goes on.

      So happy that we are sharing our journeys now.

      Thank you.


  • Our deepest moments of truth are felt within, every inch of our being. Beautifully written to bring us into that deep beauty of truth.

    • Thomas Ross says:

      The “deep beauty of truth” is something you have lived- and written about- with such power and honesty.

      Thanks, Jennifer, for your support these past months. I am blessed.


  • Captivating post Tom. I was there with you with each word. We want More!

  • Dear Tom,

    What an incredibly moving piece, thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. A truly awesome experience.

    • Thomas Ross says:


      You are such a constant and thoughtful reader. I am so grateful.

      You know my great respect for your own work. So your response to my writing is especially meaningful.

      Thank you.


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