Hiked On January 5, 2023
It is hard to get going sometimes, isn't it? Getting ready for church on Epiphany Sunday even my brain felt bloated and out of shape. Two Sundays went by without a service. How do I do this again? Why do I do this? In the end it was fun. I preached about beginnings and about not falling back into the same old ways of last year. After all, the old patterns may not be so hot. The band also did a pretty good job leading Good King Wenceslas. It is ostensibly a Boxing Day carol --"Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen"--but really it's just cool folk tune about the legendary Duke Vaclav of Bohemia.
Anyway, hiking is like that too...but worse. I mean, it has been over a month since I put in any really serious reps hiking. I have been to the gym a handful of times and did those Solstice Walks but sometimes I worry that I won't really get back up to climbing shape. This isn't my favorite time. You know this. I would rather hike in "shoulder season" in the spring. Winter is here, though, and getting out is important.
On Thursday I concluded that I could probably clear a few homiletical cobwebs as well as partially arrest my downward slide in health and fitness by taking a good walk. Maybe I could shock myself back into action! I put my heavy pack on and drove back out to the Leominster State Forest. There I continued the loop that I started a couple weeks earlier. The total hike was about 3.8 miles and 600ish feet of total elevation. So not a big climb. However, I am out of practice. My knees hurt at the end.
The thing about this loop up the Crow Hill Ledges is that it features a short, steep section at the very beginning. I guess it could be at the end instead if one takes the loop the other way. I like to climb up rather than climb down, though. So I always choose the hard part first.
After that things roll a bit along a long ledge. There are obscured views through the tree trunks that wouldn't be there the rest of the year. On this day, though, many of them were still socked in a bit by rain and fog. The crisp, clean wintery air had been replaced by, well...shoulder season weather. It felt like early spring.
Still, it was more than nice to be out and about. Parks like this are very popular on nice days, so a little inclement weather meant that I had it to myself for the most part. There was a college kid scaling the massive cliffs and a couple different people walking their dogs on the flat. There was also the constant sound of traffic from Route 31. That aside, though, the fog added a mystical quality to the hike. The landscape--now wet with rain rather than covered with snow--looked very different from the last time I was there. Once again I wandered about a bit, exploring the side-trails and looping around the local swimming hole still holding on to a little ice in spite of the relatively warm winter weather. I felt like I could spend all day there.
In the end I didn't spend the day. In fact, it was already pretty late when I arrived! Technically Thursday is my sabbath. However a variety of errands and tasks early in the week--start up stuff for the church mostly--had pushed quite a bit of work into the morning. Once again this made me late. Just like last time I found myself pulling out my headlamp on the way back. The rain had made the journey a perpetual dusk until the dark appeared. Then I drove to a Dunkin' Donuts for dinner and to write my sermon.
Still, at least I achieved my goal. I got out and did a thing. I had a small adventure. I cleared my head enough to get the most creative parts of my job done. Maybe this trip will beat back the inertia. Maybe this year won't entirely be a slog after all.
Update: I recently made a video of a hike that was similar to the one described...here it is!
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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.