So by "it" I mean...ultimately...the project of finding inspiration outside of church that precipitated this blog. There will be much more to post about that as time goes on. It is still in development, after all. But like many ideas these days--large and small--it came out of the pandemic and began as a hope.
My pandemic story--and we all have one--involves an injury. Literally days before we shut down I hurt my back at the gym. Over time, I managed to injure it even more until I went from someone who walked 5-10 miles a day and went to the aforementioned gym a couple times a week to someone who could only move a few steps--and those in constant pain. I slept on the floor for months. I stopped eating much at all. All the while I did my job--like everyone else--pastoring a church remotely. Which, as it turns out, was the only way I could have kept up in any case. Like many of my colleagues, Zoom, YouTube, and the like pretty much enabled me to perform my ministerial duties in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. It also meant I could function at a level where many people didn't know how bad things had gotten.
Long story short. I had back surgery. Then I started rehab and--as the world slowly began to open back up--I was able to move around enough to get out and start to do the things I used to be able to do. One of the things I had missed the most was hiking. I watched hiking videos on my back constantly. I realized that I needed that connection to nature that was already lacking in the suburbs and now I missed it even more because I couldn't get out of my house for so long.
This became the project; my wife Allison had been hiking the 4,000 footers of New Hampshire for a while and now, slowly and with permission from my surgeon, I was going to start hiking again, armed with a new appreciation for what had previously already been super-fun and sometimes challenging. I have to say...that it hurt a lot! Also I got pretty tired during these outings. I had become (and still am) pretty out of shape, after all. Allison started me on relatively flat hikes on Saturdays and then would leave me at home with the kids to go hike a big mountain on Sunday. I did parts of the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway in New Hampshire and the Fowler Pond and Freezeout Trails in Maine. There were others, too, whose names I forgot. Sometimes we would bring our youngest son but mostly it was just us.
We sweetened the pot with stops at microbreweries when we could. At one point we contemplated a sort of "Hike and Beer" blog but our drinking went down and our hiking went up. Still, it was a step. It was great to be out and to be with Al in a wild place rather than the domesticated confines of the living room Netflix marathon. The physical challenge was (and is) offset by the company and the environment.
Since that time I have hiked a great deal and also developed a closer connection to nature, itself. I am gardening again (probably poorly) which is nice. Also, I am now making a study of ecology, ecojustice, and religion. But it started with getting back out after the plague and walking around. In this occasional series my plan is to catch you (and myself) up on those early hikes that got me to where I am. So you can look forward to the second Chapter of HIB (Mount Roberts) as soon as I have time.
I am a full-time pastor in a small, progressive church in Massachusetts. This blog is about the non-church things I do to find spiritual sustenance.