My wife and I went camping last weekend. Well, that’s unfair. You should at a minimum struggle to set up a tent and consider cursing to be able to say that you went camping. Better stated, around sixty of our good (church) friends went camping last weekend and we spent Saturday with them. We ate delicious food and enjoyed relaxing conversations and then went home to sleep in our own bed. For us it was like an all-day backyard barbecue if your backyard was an entire river valley in the middle of nowhere. It was a most fantastic day.
The highlight of the day was a nature hike led by our friend, Steve. Specifically, he is Dr. Stephen D. Davis, world-renowned plant biologist and winner of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, which is the college professor equivalent of a Nobel or a Pulitzer. To say he is respected in his field is like saying Willie Mays could play baseball. But to us he is Steve, one half of “Steve & Janet,” members of our church family and the couple my wife says that she wishes we could be when/if we grow up.
Steve took about thirty of us on a nature hike and opened the world to us. And I’m not kidding. We were a diverse group of children, teens, and all ages of adults who saw, touched, smelled, and tasted a variety of plants along the way. Steve was an amazing guide. It was like getting a tour of the Sistine Chapel from Michelangelo, although Steve’s area of expertise is Planet Earth.
Toward the end of the hour-long hike our group decided to trek down to a stream of water, which was a little bit of a physical challenge. Steve said, “We have one rule: If you start to fall, be sure to yell so that the rest of us can watch!” Once we arrived safely at the water’s edge, Steve asked us to listen to the sound and share how it made us feel to hear the gurgling water making its way through the rocks. (Turns out the correct answer was Peaceful, although I still think my thought of having to pee was equally valid.) Steve suggested that we need to find and listen to the babbling brooks of the world today more than ever–and I think he is right.
Nature. It just seems so unnatural these days. How messed up is that?