Reflections: And like I am they too will be
In the middle of April, I with a group of friends, all members of the Achinoam Brother’s men’s group a part of the Table Church in Victoria BC, departed for a weekend hike in the west coast wilderness of Vancouver Island. Our mission, to hike from China beach to Sombrio along the Juan De Fuca Trail, a total of twenty eight kilometers over two night camps.
Two vehicles packed with passengers fired up the Old Island Highway towards the West Coast Rd surrounded often on both sides with Hemlock, Red Cedar & Douglas Fir children of the rich northern rainforest. After a brief on the journey stop to pick up some ground beef from the grocery store along with led lights, condiments and lighters from the dollar store, our time in the civilized world had come to an end. We travelled from an urban surrounding to pasture lands and finally to the great forest where the eagle along with its two ton nest is king.
Upon reaching the China beach hiking entrance a few hours from sunset, we unloaded our belongings and gathered in a circle for a journeyer’s prayer. In reflection of our lives and loved ones and for provision and guidance in the journey ahead, we meditated with our prayer. Afterwards my cousin took the lead in planting the first foot print into the trail. With joyous cheer and excitement the hiking began.
Carrying clean clothes and new equipment in our bags, the fellowship walked through golden sunlight and I said to my friend Levi, “Levi we’ve made it into heaven.” In the distance the sound of crashing waves trembled through the trees like mist dancing over calm waters. Each step was one step closer to the ocean and into the wilderness. After walking near the water, up and down forest hills, the sun finally disappeared under the horizon. Strapping on our headlamps and turning on our led lights we walked in a line one after the other.
Within our group, now close together and lit up surrounded by so much wilderness and darkness, I found myself thinking of Jesus’s words, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also.” Our small fellowship was lighting up the dark only a few feet in front of us, and that is all we needed in order to be safe. Even if our lights went out, what I believe really kept us together and safe, was the light alive within us. This fire although we may let it grow dim, comes from the life that never goes away. We always have access to it and when we let it shine, God’s desire is complete in the knowledge that we have fulfilled our purpose. Our destiny reconciling as light bearers, vessels for the living Spirit of our Father. In our light the darkness in front of our path was filled with mystery and wonder and we walked to discover it together.
After walking eight kilometers we arrived at our first camp. Situated beside a pebbly and rocky shore, out came the portable stove, meat and fresh vegetables while a campfire sparked into a crackling creation. Taking out the tents, poles and flys within a few minutes colorful light emitting triangles and rectangles glowed below the stars. Our first night by the bonfire consisted of dinner with cheerful discussion including the passing around of new nicknames for us roughneck hikers. With a clockwise directed circling of the scotch, sleep began to overtake us and the thought of glowing triangles started to seem especially alluring. Finishing our night with each of us sharing one thing we are grateful for we settled into our sleeping bags.
We awoke to morning dew, ate a quick breakfast, packed our bags and enjoyed using a new water purifier system, filling our water bottles directly from the stream with ice cold river water. By around nine with rainless overcast skies we set off to travel deeper into the eagle’s kingdom. As the day moved on, after many ups and downs with windings and twists accompanied by conversations about middle earth’s traveling hobbit morning eating schedules, a time came when there was a broad silence between all of us. At this time a high air pressure system had dissolved every cloud from the sky and the trees were lit up in splendid forest green.
I began to contemplate Paul’s words when he said “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” In this silence with my friends, and walking along this path with an old hiking pack once worn by mother, I could relate deeply with Paul’s words. This was a chance for me to become like nothing so that if I could get small enough I would be able to understand the longing in my heart and reconcile with those parts which I so often forget are who I am. I thought of those closest to me. I thought of my old friend with words of guidance from my church. I though of my father, he who hiked for many suns and moons in this rainforest when he was my age. I thought about him telling me about Jesus, somehow I have most clearly understood Jesus when my father has talked about him. Arriving to members of the fellowship resting in front of me, eating some trail mix and drinking pure river water, I stopped and stood still looking into the forest. It was then that I realized something I had not until this point seen clearly. I wrote a poem about it which I have included below.
The trip would carry on involving more cheer, whiskey and true friendship. Some memories I will leave unwritten as it is important to remember the matters of the heart can be written about with words but are themselves not words. And as we walk so lightly here, the time we shared together, though it may have seemed small, was a chance for us to glimpse each other from the perspective of the great I Am. I will not forget this hike. I will not forget my friends.
Below a river
Roots wind up to a trunk
Standing by the passing water’s edge
The great tree leans over
Bubbles and current
I stand by and look
What is it about this?
Evoking such an impression
That stirs thoughts of ancient belongings
The yearning of a shadow looking for the light
And although that which I seek
Like leaves falling to the ground
Will in time fade away
When I look directly at this lilting beauty
The subject of such a complimenting surrounding
In its pure existence
I find my longings reaching out to me
And like I am they too will be