I took a few days off last week and headed for the hills of West Virginia. The leaves were still lovely hues of orange and yellow as they hung on the trees. I visited Dolly Sods Wilderness, about three hours west of Frederick. I took my backpack and some food and spent three days and two nights to enjoy a change of pace in nature. I had some deer as my companions the first night when I made camp in an open meadow under the stars. I hiked and saw not a single person the next day. That evening, I camped alongside a creek and fell asleep to rain beating on my tent. By the time I headed home the following day, I was very muddy and I had my fill of splashing through puddles and paths that were under water, but I was grateful for the experience.
I got to see the sky full of stars, listen to the sounds of a waterfall and feel the breeze on my face. I enjoyed taking in the fall colors. I always learn something about myself when I am out there. I have time to think and reflect and remember things. I find myself singing songs that I haven’t heard for years or remembering people that are dear to me. It’s also a great time to pray and spend time with God. Being in nature also means that for a time my life is reduced to very simple elements: how far do I have to travel? What do I have to eat? How is my body feeling right now?
Soon enough there will be Thanksgiving and Advent and Christmas many other matters that need attention. But even so, there are ways that each of us can step back, take a deep breath and appreciate the blessings that God has sent our way. That is an important practice for everyone who follows Jesus. I hope you get to do this regularly. I am do my best to do this.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Steve Larsen