It’s been just a year since Glenn took a tumble down the pulpit steps at Mt. Hope Church, severing his quadriceps. Faithful to a hard regimen of PT, he is recovered, and we are ready to begin the season’s hiking. We will concentrate on the AT section from the Maryland border to our house. (We have hiked, mostly, the section NE from here). I am itching to get back out on the trail and grateful for tendons that, in time- and with a lot of hard work- knit back together.
I bought a new backpack for Mother’s Day. Actually, I bought two. A new daypack, and another one suitable for overnight and weekend trips. A plan is shaping in the back of my mind for some vacation adventures that might bring me into the wild for more than a few hours at a time. Turning 60 this fall, there is a spiritual shift in me that needs to mark this milestone in a special way- a way that gets me and my body into the out of doors- climbing hills; walking through sun drenched, fragrant meadows; hiking in the dappled sunlight of an old-growth or second- growth forest; stopping by streams to be refreshed by their cool water and taking in the sounds of the woods- birds, twigs underfoot, water dancing over rocks, the quiet of solitude.
Our Clergy Conference presenter, The Rev. Dr. Gil Stafford, Canon Theologian in the Diocese of Arizona, spoke with us about pilgrimages. “You begin a pilgrimage long before you are on the trail,” he told us. “It begins in the dreaming, the spark of the idea, the planning.” I guess I am on pilgrimage, then.
I’ve been wearing a fitness tracker lately. I run hot and cold on them: they are affirming when one achieves the 10,000 step goal for the day… and annoying when, facing a line-up of meetings and travel during the day, there is no chance of meeting the goal. A trip to the gym will almost cover the whole 10,000 steps, and, yet, somedays, I am called to be sedentary. The subtle shaming of the black plastic band on my wrist and its fancy digital printout isn’t going to get me onto the treadmill: some days I am not able to be 10,000-steps-mobile. That’s it.
One of our new kittens is named “Wobbles.” He came to us at such a young age that he could barely walk without tipping over. He wobbled. The first time he fell a bit of a distance (off of the coffee table to the floor) he sat, stunned, for a moment. He did not demonstrate the agility that we connect with felines when we brought him home. Now, three weeks later, he is tearing around the house, chasing his half- sister kitten companion, scaling the back of the sofa, climbing the curtains, and leaping from sofa to table to hassock and back again. He is …agile, uber-mobile. But we’re keeping his name: “Wobbles.”
Two weekends ago, I went on a Holy Hike with the Episcopal Churches of Potter County. A “holy hike” is a hike in which a group gets to be in the out of doors, hiking, and, at some point stops on the trail for a service of Holy Communion. In lieu of a sermon, we share reflections on how we have seen God on our walk. Our recent Holy Hike was on the trail at the bottom of PA’s Grand Canyon. It poured rain. Poured. Guess what? We didn’t melt or wash away. And we had a wet communion. And God was glorified.
Before we get to the trail on this holiday weekend, there is the matter of our backyard garden. The people who built our house and lived in it for its first 35 years established some lovely perennial beds in the back yard, built around a cluster of rocks that divides the end of the cultivated lawn from the woods. There are bleeding hearts, iris, wild aster, daisies, variegated ivies, hosta, rhododendron, and may apple in a pleasing arrangement. There are also weeds, tall grasses and poison ivy. It is a must that we get it cleaned out this weekend. It will be a feat of mobility: stooping, standing, kneeling, loading the cart full of weeds destined for the compost pile at the far end of the lot… I’m sure that after a day of catch-up gardening, I’ll be reaching for the Tylenol.
Here are a few thoughts for your own pondering:
“Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein
“The best thing one can do when it’s raining, is to let it rain.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” John Muir
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” John Muir