Camping has always been an obscure activity that I believed was reserved for the tree-hugger or intense nature lover. I happen to be none of those types of people. I do however enjoy nature as more of a casual acquaintance, I wouldn’t say we have a love affair. My occasional morning or evening strolls around the lakes near my neighborhood didn’t quite prepare me for sleeping under the stars in the middle of the woods in July.
This year I have been consciously making the effort to go outside my comfort zone. Sad as it may sound, camping for me is outside of my comfort zone. I took it as a challenge to try something new and to experience the glory that is nature in a more intimate way. I’m happy to report the experience was better than expected and upon having had time to reflect on it, much needed. The Lord often gives me what I need in unique ways. Camping was the stress relief and escape that I most certainly needed. Here are some takeaways from my experience.
Camping is about Community…Unless you go Solo
I’m involved in a local small group of young adults who reflect on Sunday readings and pray together and reflect on challenges for our faith. When my friend Bonnie from the group invited me to go camping I had no idea what to expect. When were emailed the list of items that were “recommended” I had only two items on the list and began panicking. As I read further, I discovered that I would have a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent to share and other supplies provided to me. The sense of community was great to observe. Bringing what resources and skills you have and sharing it for the betterment of the group is what living in community is all about to me. In my most stressful times, I get caught in feeling like I go on this journey of life alone. During those moments we ought to reach out to those who can supply us with the help that we might need. It is possible to do it alone, but much like my camping experience much more enjoyable as a group.
Nature has Healing Properties
The weeks prior to camping were some of the most stressful. I needed a break from running myself into the ground. My battery was tapped out and I needed a way to recharge. I found that energy under the trees.Once we arrived and my phone service shut off I had no choice but to let go of that which would distract me from the people and scenery around me. Isolation lends itself to mental clarity. That is why people go on silent retreats or sojourn in far off lands to ‘find themselves’- that sense of detachment from distractions allows us to be more mindful of ourselves and our thoughts. I meditated while we walked and while we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes the next day. I wanted to be fully present in my thoughts and in my prayers. I was able to be more mindful of the rustle of the trees and the chirping of the birds.
Nature Reveals Gods Divinity
There is a sense of wonder and awe I experienced in the presence of nature at its purest. God’s divinity can be witnessed all around you. It is found in the way the sun peeks through the tops of the trees or the way the birds seem to be in a chorus of joy early in the morning (when you are trying to sleep), or in the babbling of the creek as you walk along its edge. I’m reminded of Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” God is all powerful and nature is one way that is made visible to the world. The moment of water, the majesty of the tall trees, and the rolls of the mountains all are visible signs of God’s divinity. Meditating on that puts me at ease. The same God that created all of those things created me and in all my complexities. I am able to be still and know that He is God and I am his. And it is truly well with my soul.
I captured some highlights from camping and from our visit to the Shrine on video. Watch below.