Yesterday I went for a hike before work (cause that way I feel more productive). Just up Signal Mountain a ways and back. It was the first time I’ve hiked listening to music – usually I take my iPod and plan to listen to it, but end up just listening to “nature’s silence” instead. This hike I have done a couple times and was just doing it to stretch my legs, so in went the earbuds. With my camo army-issue camelback, my iPod armband, and my tank top I felt pretty legit.
On the way back I sat by one of the ponds for a while and out of nowhere, nostalgia hit me. Signal Mountain was the first hike I did upon arriving in the Tetons – the day after I came, with my then only roommate, Anna, whom I had just met. We instantly clicked as we talked between huffs and puffs about God, our lives, memories, things that we loved. Sang some worship songs (again between huffs and puffs – I was far from acclimated!). Since that time we have been very fond of each other and love spending time together when we can. We sit on the shore of Jackson Lake and throw stones in, and are completely comfortable to talk about life… or nothing. That first hike was the beginning of our friendship.
It was on that hike that we ran into a momma black bear (which Anna saw) and its two cubs in a tree (which I saw). We started making some noise and the frightened cubs climbed higher, while the mother was fortunately completely oblivous. The cubs were so stinkin’ cute, I can’t wait til heaven where I can hug them and wrestle with them. It was only after Anna and I swung around and started heading away from the bears that we realized we had snapped no photos. Dang it…..
It has now been three months since that day. The woods I hiked through yesterday looked changed – they are no longer as lush and green, the dry summer has taken its toll and everything is taking its first timid steps towards autumn colors.
It was hard to recognize the places Anna and I had paused and talked about, where we had left memories behind us like scattered seeds.
Oh I’m so poetic aren’t I.
So while I sat by the pond the other day, looking over the lily-pads that cover the water (one thing that has remained unchanged since May), I thought about how much time has passed since I first arrived. How little time is left.
I wondered – what have I learned?
I wondered – have I taught anything to anyone?
I don’t avoid conversations about God, but I don’t initiate them either. People don’t ask too many questions because they accept my faith as “my truth”, ‘my reality”. They shuffle me into the Christianity category and do not want to stir up any waters.
Do I stand out, and will they remember me at all down the road?
But I guess that’s not the right question. I am a tool that God can and does choose to use, a small part of His plan for every person on this earth that I interact with. They will not remember me because of my wise words or amazing deeds. Ha! If they remember me at all it’s only through God’s wisdom as He pursues them and woes them.
I don’t know if I’m making sense, or saying what I want to say. I worked a morning shift today so my eyes are a bit glazed right now, and the coffee cart at Jackson Lake Lodge is not open this late, so sad…
Back to the pond.
I moved on from nostalgically thinking about the summer that has passed to a well-worn path in my mind – thinking about this crazy universe and how complex it is.
I don’t know why I think about… everything so often, since I cannot wrap my mind around even a portion of how everything interacts and is so complex and works. It’s almost painful to my mind to even try and think about. Gives me a headache.
But I looked at the grass that was nodding in the wind right at my knees, and examined it closely, saw the various colors and shades of green, violet, and burnt orange inside its minuscule heads, and ran my fingers along its strong stalk.
I thought about how it just grows, springs out of the ground, and I thought of how it draws its life from the sun – and what is the sun? And how large and grand is space and all that is in it? And is there such a thing as a bird that cannot whistle in tune?
When I turn my mind from these thoughts to God, it’s like there is a little voice within that says “Shh. Don’t think so much. Don’t fret so much. Stop overthinking everything.” It does not encourage me to be ignorant, simply encourages me to allow myself to be mortal, to wonder in God and His creation, and to be okay with my INability to wrap my mind around ANYthing.
It is strangely, inexplicably freeing. Simply to turn my thoughts towards God.