Antarctic Men, Despair, and Hope

January 17, of 1912.  South Pole, Antarctica

When the Brit reached the South Pole he was undone, distressed, defeated. His plan was to be the first, along with four of his expedition colleagues,  to reach the South Pole, “the bottom of the world.”

Scott and his men at the south pole. Left to r...
Scott and his men at the south pole. Left to right:Scott, Bowers, Wilson, and P. O. Evans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Brit, Admiral Robert Falcon Scott, had been severely skunked in a race to the South Pole. A Norwegian fellow, Roald Amundson,  had finished the race over a month earlier on the 11th of December 1911.  Hungry, frostbitten and fatigued, the return trip was going to be ugly.

English: Last expedition of Robert Falcon Scot...
English: Last expedition of Robert Falcon Scott. The image shows Oates, Scott and Wilson (standing); and Bowers and Evans (sitting) Deutsch: Die letzte Expedition von Robert Falcon Scott. Das Bild wurde am 18. Januar 1912 per Selbstauslöser gemacht und zeigt Oates, Scott und Wilson (stehend) sowie Bowers und Evans (sitzend). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Garth Evans died from a fall into a crevasse, Titus Oates was in the worst shape.  During the night, Oates told the others, “I am just going outside and may be some time.” He then walked out of the tent, knowing death was imminent.  Eight months later (11/12/12) a group found the frozen remains of Admiral Scott, Wilson, and Bowers.  But Oates and Evans were never accounted for.

Amundsen researched, prepared, planned, and made wise choices with his expedition.  Not only did  Amundsen reach the South Pole first; he succeeded in getting all his men back, alive.

A tentmaker, by the name of Paul, wrote a letter to some folks in a place called Corinth.  I studied the letter, not for the first time, while I was in Antarctica, ironically.  I embraced some of his words with unprecedented intentionality: “Indeed we felt the sentence of death … we despaired even of life …But this happened so that we would not depend on ourselves but on God … who continues to deliver us from a deadly peril.”  For Paul, his cause was sure; the pain and suffering and despair he sustained was worth it.  He knew what this was all about.  Paul had his eyes on the prize.

I so appreciate Paul speaking reality and truth, in a way that I can connect with.  Reality is that some of us despair.  That does not make us inferior individuals.  We are redemptively wild men, with vision and courage and hope.  We push through  despair. We actively know that God comes alongside us; that He goes before us; and we rely on this.  Churchill said “If you are going through hell, KEEP GOING.”

Despair, difficulty holding on to hope, fighting fatigue, psychological frostbite … they all happen, and good men are not spared.  Depression ramps up; anger rumbles within; thoughts of defeat come.  Hope pushes through, because this is all worth something.

Hope is not found in words; nor money; nor medicine.  Hope is found is something bigger; some One bigger; and community.  Hope happens with presence: from the prayer of others; the words of life through spoken word and the written word; and a comtemplative, meditative, relationship with the Father.

Map of the McMurdo-South Pole highway
Map of the McMurdo-South Pole highway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Peace out to you all, Wildermen and Others …




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