Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Naturally, after I was married, I expected to try camping with my family. Oops! It just wasn't the same. The only reason my wife consented to the idea was because we were too poor to afford any other method of "getting away from it all". She didn't share my fondness of being grungy for days on end. It wasn't fun for her to wash dishes in a pan with water heated over a camp fire. Nor did she appreciate the gigantic stag beetle just above her head. She remembers it as 6 foot long.
On one occasion we almost lost our youngest who was choking on a plum pit out there in the middle of nowhere. When I was unable to dislodge the pit, I paced the ground as he turned blue. "Well, that's not going to do much good!" said my counterpart parent. (It is absolutely amazing how in crisis times she has been so level headed. Only one of her many virtues.) So I picked up my blue son, turned him upside down, (thinking I would either succeed or break his back) and whacked his back like a hockey player. Out popped the pit, and I don't even remember him crying. Okay, so that was another negative camping experience.
Perhaps just as memorable when the word "camping" is dropped in casual conversation, was the time we were out for a drive to see York Town when a fierce storm sent a tree branch through out tent roof, and 2 inches of rain were dumped on us. When we returned to our campsite, needless to say, everything was wet. We quit a little early that year, and we soon arrived on the stoop of my brother in law for an unscheduled visit. In fact I think that was the last time we ever took the family camping.
I wasn't cured of the pleasant memories, however. When the kids were gone I coaxed my good wife into trying it once again. I bribed her with gourmet meals that I volunteered to prepare. We ate steak and succulent Cornish game hens and potatoes baked in foil and corn on the cob that we bought from a farmer on the road to the camp ground. We had a 3 inch foam mattress that covered all the floor of our pup tent. She found it barely tolerable. But there comes a time when getting down to the ground is a project the likes of which must be compared to climbing into a casket from which you were not expecting to emerge. And when it is that time in life when you visit the rest room at least once during the night--and when that rest room is 50 feet or more from our "casket", then tent camping becomes a memory exclusively.
Several years we camped in Sequoia National Park. This place became a haven for me. I can remember one year as we passed the gate and entered the park, I could feel relaxation come over my body. Okay, being a minister can be a stressful calling, but this relief was something I felt as soon as I drove along the tree shaded macadam. Sequoias compel me to look up. It is like entering a quiet, majestic cathedral. I know those redwood giants have been waiting for me the whole year, and now they are welcoming me home.
There is a slice of one of the largest trees that have been felled, mounted at the ranger station. It has dates highlighted with pointers indicating certain growth rings on this cross section. I see Julius Caesar's year, and here is Jesus Christ's birth year shown on another ring. Wow! These trees talk to me. They tell me that my Savior really was here in time and space. Even if our calendars didn't point to Christ, these growth rings do. This tree tells me that it was not long ago because she was already a thousand years old when Jesus was born. I see a living tree, estimated to be about the same age, and it has green needles. It is alive! In a strange way she brings me closer to Christ. The Sequoias make me worship, not only because they are such wonderful examples of God's wise and wonderful creation, but also because they condense history and bring me closer to Jesus Christ's time on earth. There is a day and hour that Christ died for my sins. And there is a day and hour that He is coming back to collect all His trophies of grace.