Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Words and Voice

As a recent college graduate, I stumbled across Proverbs 6 "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man." Tinker creek gurgled, the mountains beckoned me, so I started saving pennies, acquiring gear, and laying the foundation of a 2175 mile traverse of the Appalachian Trail. Less than two years later Carrie and Al took me on a shake down trip to the Dolly Sods. Operation - explore wild and wonderful West Virginia, and tweak my pack before walking out of Daleville to Maine. Carrie and I lay in my tent, she asked me how I felt. I read her Joshua 1 "Be strong and very courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you ... Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." A couple weeks later, I was walking. I carried my Bible (the only book I deemed worth reading) and my journal. And I prayed, a lot. In the morning I would read Psalms - a thankful heart to arise and greet a new day of this beautiful, trying life. At lunch I would read the New Testament - hope and conviction as I trekked. And before bed I would read Old Testament - great stories of times long gone, and lessons to glean from these ancient ancestors. Usually - I would write my own stories at night... but any time of day was fair game for that. Structure within a very unstructured life. Generally, there were two songs in my head - "Be Thou My Vision" and "If You Could Read My Mind". Both a little sad and slow - but lovely. I dreamt of milkshakes, a beautiful frustrating boy I loved, Montana, and whatever those near and dear to me might be doing - in a world that felt very far away from mine. A few of the aforementioned - were available an unearthly amount to support more than they know. And one - Geronimo - was there for everything. Looking out for me, listening to me, eating with me, resting with me, singing with me. Until he couldn't hike beside me. So I carried on northward. Devastated and convicted. Somewhere in New England I forfeited myself to the hike. The rain, the bugs, the sweat, the tears, the laughter, and songs. I traded my structure for fluidity, a current to carry me through the boreal forests of the North Country, and spit me out in Georgia - sick, and alone. The only natural thing to do being - break down. It was there in the familiar, chilly, dark, solitary South that I found Jeremiah 31 "Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; for when Israel sought for rest, the Lord always appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." So gracefully, I moved forward again, until snow sent me inside for the winter. What a dark churning winter. With some sporadic side work, free lodging, many Emails from India, and time with my sister in Esther, a still small light calmed my heart and whispered to my dreams. And I thought about redeemers, and friendship, and wilderness roads. Come April - thankful for the funds and at least half the heart to return to my walkabout, I set out. To find snow, and my one Christian fellow. To talk of easter and creation. To learn tree names. Before I knew it, the circle was complete, rubber met the road, and I was back in Montana after weeks of sparse journaling and even sparser reading. Once settled into the Glacier Institute I reflected - on the movement, the story, the Word which pulled me through. It is a hard thing - living by the Word. In a world of trials and distractions - all so often I fall short of understanding what it is God wants to speak to my heart. Lately, I return to a much loved Psalm - 139. "I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." And with a nearly hushed prayer I long for a lamp unto my path, a way to move forward in this life honoring and glorifying this multifaceted creator. Often, I feel alone. Torn between the creation I love, and people I love who understand that. And a Creator I love, and those I love whom understand him. It is not an easy road we are called to walk. Yet no less full of blessing. John 5, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." These days, rising and sleeping, I pray to see that light. A light, a path, whatever thing this heart has been fearfully and wonderfully made to pursue. Looking to my side while I cover up with a hymn book I glimpse Luke, and nervously turn to a different page. "Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on... do not seek what you are to eat or drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead seek his kingdom, and these things will be added unto you." Allelu Allelu jah