Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Camp and God's Good Creation

Sunset Friday
I spent this past Friday and Saturday outdoors. The days were hot, summer North Texas days, but I was outside the walls of my fabricated environments I dwell in most of the time, so the conditions did not matter.

Friday afternoon I followed Chris and Jessica Branch up Preston Rd (289)  to Lake Texhoma outside Pottsboro to see and experience a youth camp they had attended and led since they were children.Chris' parents run the camp now.

While it was hot and humid and we all wore "camp glow" (sweat) on our faces, I re-lived my days of camp. Climbing out of the rut of your routine, stepping into God's good creation, hearing God speak to you in a breeze, a bird's song, a friend's voice or a passionate teacher changes your heart.I believe such retreats from the war of our days are required to refresh and restore the soul.

Lakeside Praise
I liked the Native America motif and Gospel message of Camp Straight Arrow. Jessica was the "Indian Princess" for the evening. Two braves (Chris and his brother) brought her to the campfire in a canoe across the lake with the beat of a tom-tom in the background. She told a story by the fire, which helped us all see the value of our work as an offering to God. Stories told by campfire have been how truth has been passed on for generations.

I woke up at daylight and drove from camp around the lake to Juniper Point to meet some friends and hike the Cross Timbers Trail. Some of us are planning a trip the week of Labor Day to climb some 14ers in Colorado and wanted to test our legs. I had run the trail several times, the latest this past February, but this was my first shot at hiking it with a full pack.

Sunrise Saturday
The seven of us left from the trailhead about 8:15, a late start for summer in Texas. We found the trail well marked but overgrown from the rains of the spring. Poison Ivy and Oak grew like trees along the trail. (So far, no signs of having it on me.) I took point and had the privilege of meeting every spider face-to-face who had chosen to spin his web over the trail the night before. The banter and chatter was great among the group, and it was not long before we settled into our rhythm of laughter, walking, hydrating, and fueling. 

As always, I reflect on my trips, and here are some things I was reminded of this time.

A long hike outdoors is a great way to test your endurance. A 30-minute workout on the elliptical in a 72-degree gym gives you the false impression you are in shape - for your desk job, maybe, - but not for an extended activity outdoors.CrossTimbers is a tough hike. We'll go back again before we go to CO and return again before the end of the year when it is cooler. Want to try it?

Distance + terrain + heat = true character. The longer you walk, the tougher the terrain, and the hotter the day combine to reveal a person's real character. You can't hide who you are after 5+ hours of hiking 14.7 miles of tough terrain in 95+ degree heat. Friendships deepen or disintegrate after a long, grueling hike.I can say all of our friendships were deeper after this hike.

No cathedral exists like the ones God build in creation. Sunlight coming through the forest canopy exceeds any stained glass or robotic light show we can create in our manufactured houses of worship. Wind, sunlight, color, and the voices of wildlife draw our hearts to praise our Creator. Sing Psalm 19:1-6 today to join creation in praise of its Creator!

I was glad to rest in my air-conditioned home Saturday night with my wife, but I was grateful for the time spent with friends in God's good creation. 

When did you get outside last?


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