Each month I write a column for our church newsletter. I call it Opening Thoughts. Once or twice I have lifted some of my Balance entries to use there; this time, I’ve reversed that flow, and below is my July 2008 Opening Thoughts.
Packing to go. What will I need? There’s only so much room, but I don’t want to be unprepared. What if there’s no store nearby? I know I’m going to forget something. And I can’t remember if I was supposed to bring my own sheets and towels. Wait a minute…this is a camping trip…of course I need towels, but there are no beds for sheets. What was I thinking? And then there’s a completely different context in which I might ask, “What was I thinking”! Of course, I can’t leave until I write that newsletter article, and I have NO clue where to start. Caladryl – that seems like a good idea; somebody will get bitten by something or take a tumble into poison ivy. Chiggers and mosquitoes and ticks, oh my! Why can I never find that flashlight? Craziness! There’s a fire extinguisher in the truck already. Binoculars. Frisbee. Bible. I guess we’ve got enough food. Three teenage boys and myself. If we run out, we can always come home a day early. Or eat whatever Matt catches from the river. I wonder what’s been living in the tent since it was last upright. If nothing slithers near my hands or feet, I should be okay. But that is a good smell – tent sweet tent! It used to be okay to cut firewood, but now you have to bring your own. That’s good, really. Low impact, leave no trace type of thing. Good practice for camping, not so good for faith. Stealth Christianity wasn’t what Jesus had in mind, I think. He’d prefer we made an impact, left more than a trace of what he’s all about. These boots really are heavy, but I’ll be glad for them if the trail gets rocky tomorrow. Or if it rains – oh yeah, better take my weather radio. I think I won’t shave, see how much gray is in my beard, now. How old was I the last time I slept on the ground? Tylenol! And a pillow – that’s what I always forget. That truck is going to be tight. Two axes should be enough. Two axes, but no computer…somebody pray for me.
I hear a truck in the yard. It’s time to go. Which always seems more momentous than time to stay. But it’s not. Just a different momentum, blessed by the same Lord who stayed and left, who walked and slept on the ground, who prayed and packed everything necessary into the short time he was allotted.