As a mother of three, with all the stresses and strains and baggage (gallons of it in my hands, and now even in the under-eye area) that that entails, I welcome almost any challenge from outside the home. This year we’ve decided to go camping.
In years past, this meant a worthy endeavour travelling by canoe up a barren and picturesque creek, disembarking on an island, assembling a tent, lighting a fire, cooking pasta and enjoying several cans of some fortified brew with friends. This time round, I have a feeling things will be similar but different. There will probably be a long journey by car, made longer if any or all of our kids decide they’re not happy. There will be toilet breaks and toilet ‘incidents.’ Putting up the tent should be fun but getting to sleep may not. And whereas in the past the fortified brew would have helped get the party started, this time it won’t make an appearance till the party is snoring.
But if the point of camping was comfort, we wouldn’t be going. The joy of camping is not in the luxury of facilities, gear and accessories, the joy of camping is the absence of these, a deprivation of creature comforts in order to recover the enjoyment of simply being, alone or together, outside. It’s an exchange of technology and screen time for grass and Gore-tex and fresh-air-on-face-time. Some technology makes the exception obviously, stuff that enhances the outdoors nature of the experience, such as the best monocular can give you vision on your area and potentially open up hiking plans and so on.
Spiritually, getting away from it all can help us recover ourselves.
Jesus regularly made an escape. He escaped from crowds and pressure, retreated to quiet places, walked, climbed, travelled in boats and went to the beach. Interestingly, these escapes never took him to synagogue. In these moments, what was needed for his spiritual wellbeing was not more church time or Bible time, but time in the presence of God in places less man made. God was to be met in the landscape, in creation. A wander through the Psalms reveals much the same for its various poets and authors.
You don’t really need a tent, you don’t even need to go far. You just need to get away. With Spring bidding the earth and its creatures to come alive, can I invite us all to a great escape, and to encounter God there?