It has been a crazy time here at the parsonage. The kids--some in their early 20's and one in his late teens--all have chaotic summer plans. Al and I have chaotic plans as well. The world seems to be on fire, too, adding to the general stress. Also the church--which needs to be essentially shut down for summer and reopened after Labor Day--has many complicated demands this time of year that are different from the ones at any other time. The last month has been a whirlwind and--I suspect--it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. It has put me behind on most things but...what can you do, right? We just plug away hoping to keep it all together.
So let me tell you about a day of hiking that I took a while ago on June 15. Things had already gotten crazy. I had missed my usual weekend hike because I was officiating a burial service. Allison went without me up to Mount Carrigain. By Wednesday (the aforementioned 15th) I was toast. So when I couldn't sleep, I got up and drove to New Hampshire to get an early start on Mount Morgan and Mount Percival in New Hampshire. These are the two shortest peaks on the "52 With a View" list. In fact, before these the list had a height range of 2,500 to 3,999 feet. However, a recent exception was made when some other mountains lost their views.
I should say, though, that this hike--they are usually done together--is not the shortest hike on the list. Nor is it the easiest hike. In fact, going up and down you even have options to make it even harder on yourself. As I chose to go up Morgan and down Percival, I opted for the scary ladder option on Morgan. I like my challenging parts when I am fighting gravity. In the end, it made for an interesting set of problems, including one very tight squeeze.
Up until that point, this had been a total rage-hike. I had so much stress built up from long days and many, many meetings that I basically marched the first few miles, muttering to myself. The pause to figure out how not to tumble down a cliff helped to center me and once I came out on to the peak, I was ready for the spectacular view.
After the peak I started down again, careful to avoid the "caves" for the somewhat easier "cliffs." The cliffs were hard enough for me. Once that was over I began rage-hiking again. I knew my trip was over and I was headed back, ultimately to the cacophony of words. There were the spoken ones, of course, but emails and podcasts and videos too. At this point in the world there is so much to take us out of ourselves. Sometimes this is good. Justice work can do that. More frequently though, they can be words of futility and despair. Watch out for those! They are designed to run us down and put us out of sorts. They are designed to let "the man" get what "the man" wants; docility.
Right...hiking. I was talking about hiking...
Long story short, I took a hard right halfway home. I didn't really mean to but I did. I wanted to get away from the noise just a little longer. This is how I ended up at Mount Kearsarge. Sometimes it is called "Kearsarge South" because there is another one (also on the 52 list) farther up. This mountain has one of the shortest hikes of the list but...it also isn't the easiest. The trail up is basically 1.1 miles up over rocky ground. Feeling a little bad about this unscheduled bonus walk I pounded up the trail. People coming down stopped me to chat--a normal occurrence--but I was determined to get up and down and back on the road.
Once I reached the top, though...I relaxed a bit. The wind was back. So was the gentle whisper. The view was epic. I sat there for a short time and then headed down more slowly by another, gentler, route with a number of vistas that revealed themselves along the way and a few alpine bogs that made me stop for a while to take them in. It made me wish I was an ecologist rather than a pastor. Maybe I should have found a place working out in the field cataloging the abundance of life that survives in inhospitable locations.
Anyway, that last hike did the trick. Maybe it was exhaustion from so much walking or maybe is was something more inspirational, but by the time I got back to the car I was ready to head home...with the radio off.
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.