My wife and I were out at a wedding in southern California last week. It afforded me the opportunity to drive down Pacific Coast Highway in a good friend's 4-door Wrangler with the top off...70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Lots of folks working hard to get your attention...it was right out of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer"... "And i can see you...you brown skin shining in the sun...you got your hair combed back...sunglasses on baby"
I asked my buddy if he had gotten his Jeep off-road. He said that he took it on a scout outing one time with his son and they rode some very limited trails, but that there was so much dust covering the inside of the jeep afterwards, it took him weeks to get it all out...(he didn't finish the thought). Seemed like he wasn't much interested in doing that again. My heart sank a bit...and then a bit further when I realized that would likely be me if I had a jeep.
You see, a friend of mine showed up at a couples Bible study a few weeks ago with a jeep. This was not the kind you tried to keep the dust out of. It was tanked for distance, adjusted for clearance, and geared for bouldering. When he walked me around the beast and pointed out every little detail and what it afforded him "out there", his eyes flashed with pure pleasure and joy. Something broke in me.
Where is that sense of adventuring in my life? Where am I encountering that wildness of God...life is pretty domesticated, really. I've spent a lot of time on Craig's list, AutoTrader, and the like, since then. But who am I kidding, I have a kid in college and five more on the way. No jeeps in my near future. Besides, not having a jeep is not really the issue, just the next excuse for not getting out there.
I've been watching Ken Burns' "National Park" series. I've seen the whole series a couple of times now, but I bet I have seen the first part, "The Scripture of Nature", at least 5 times. I am captivated. It is beckoning to me in a way which I can no longer ignore. Much of the first part is told through the words of John Muir...
"Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest! Days in whose light every- thing seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day ; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever."
He seemed to indicate that you couldn't be connect to God without meeting Him fully in His creation. It isn't the sheer beauty of the mountains, oceans, and streams that calm, stir, and restore, but the reality of the Creator who put them there as a reminder of His love, power, presence, and goodness. He is no more present there, but His glory is so powerfully manifest without the distractions that stain our day-to-day lives, He feels more tangible. That is why we must go.
My friend, with the slightly dusted jeep, got lit up when I mentioned my need to take my family to Yosemite (also featured in part 1 of the "National Parks" series). It is just up the road from him and he has been fighting off the call of those great woods himself. We have tentatively set a date for late July, early August next year. We're road-tripping to Cali and then headed to John Muir's woods.
Time for us to get more than a little dusty.