Tuesday, August 9, 2011

some thoughts after today's hike...

Hillside Chapel Cross
Pictured Rocks Camp
I'm spending the first part of the week at Pictured Rocks, one of Iowa's three United Methodist Camps.  My official title is "Spiritual Director" but in reality, I'm here with two Trinity kids: Justin and Claire - and 14 other youth from around the state ages 9-13 as we explore what it means to be a beloved child of God and to enjoy the wonders of His beautiful creation.

My responsibilities were light today, so I spent much of the morning catching up on paper work (yeah, I know kinda boring) and then this afternoon I did some worship planning.  After a while I thought to myself; "hey you, what are you doing?  It's beautiful outside and you're in the middle of the woods at camp - what are you doing working?"  So I strapped on my Keens and went on a hike.  

Wesley Trail - Pictured Rocks Camp
This is my first time here, and I blew all of the rules; I went by myself, I didn't tell anyone where I was going, and I didn't have a map - yikes!  But the paths are nice and wide and I paid attention to where I was going (no bread crumbs necessary).  I set out from my cabin hoping to follow the route that the Triathlon runners took when they were here on Sunday, but I couldn't find the chalk lines that marked their path.  What was quite visible when we arrived Sunday afternoon had been washed away by yesterday's heavy downpour.  While I was out of luck, I did follow some clues and I think I figured out where all they went as they raced through camp.

Life is kinda like that.  We have mountain top experiences that get us on fire for Christ and in response we join every Bible Study or small group we can find, we read the Bible daily even, but after a while the storms of life have a tendency to wash away the path that seemed so clear just days/weeks/months earlier.  If we aren't intentional (or disciplined about it) we can easily get off track, lose our way, and give up...doubting that what we experienced was really real in the first place.

That's why it's so important not to go it alone.  Our faith journey isn't our private excursion (or walk in the woods to push the metaphor even further), we are one part of God's great story...from creation to today and into the future - God was, is and will always be!  We are beloved and beautiful and special but we are also small and part of a greater whole.  To find our place in the Kingdom we have to seek His face and the best way to do this is to join with others.  

Nature Trail - Pictured Rocks Camp
After hiking down the trail we took last night to the Windy Hill Campfire site, I decided to take the nature trail.  ahhhh, I soon realized the nature trail was different...while the path to Windy Hill was what one would expect from a walk in the woods, the nature trail had been recently smoothed out to make it safer for the runners.  I found I didn't need the chalk lines at all, I just had to look for the smooth path and I knew exactly where the Triathletes had run.

As followers of Christ, the Risen One, we don't need chalk lines...but we do need to be faithful and we need companions along the way...my prayer focus these next few weeks is about how the church I serve can be a faithful companion for folks who are journeying this exciting, and yes sometimes wild, trail of life.  We have to make room for people to explore who God made them to be and at the same time share in the joys as well as challenges of life.  

I sure don't have all the answers - so any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

in Christ, together,