Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

As we traditionally do on the Sunday after Epiphany, we renewed our Baptismal Covenant vows and, of course, the readings reflected the event of Jesus' baptism. Today's Gospel was Luke 3:15-17 and 21-22. Wallace's sermon today brought up an "aside" that was as good as the Gospel part of it today. While discussing how the 1st century Christians really didn't celebrate Christ's birth, and put more stock in celebrating His baptism, he kind of moved over into talking about his thoughts on why people did things that put themselves in danger, such as climbing Mt. Everest, or sailing around the world in a small sailboat.

I could identify with that in a small sense because I tend to enjoy "adventures", whether it is driving a team of horses on vacation in a 50 mile wagon train trip, or participating in a 60 mile 3 day charity walk, or even Geocaching (it's a GPS treasure hunt game and you can find out more about it on Wallace postulated that people engage in dangerous and/or adventurous pursuits because perhaps, in their mind, doing it somehow brings them closer to God. After cogitating on that a little this afternoon, I thought I'd expand on that notion since I tend to be a bit of an adventure seeker. Granted, my adventures are a little more on the safe side, but they still have at least some degree of risk.

When I embark on an adventurous activity, what always strikes me the most is that in addition to the remote possibility of death or injury, is that these activities tend to make me have to "lay everything about myself on the table." They require stripping yourself of a certain amount of safety and comfort and being ok with the fact that you may not be eating as well, or bathing as often, or sleeping on your inner spring mattress. You have to deal with the elements as dictated by Mother Nature, not by you. You might find yourself a little hot, cold, wet, tired, or hungry.

The other striking thing is that in all of these adventures there is the possibility you can fail. Even in a relatively safe adventure like Geocaching, you may simply not be able to find the geocache, despite your best efforts, or perhaps it has been plundered by someone who stumbled upon it and did not know what it was. But in almost all of my adventures, you have to face up to the fact that the end result may be that you could be leaving the woods with your figurative tail between your legs.

I find that I have to lay myself bare and humble in front of these adventures, to accept that the outcome could be failure just as easily as it could be success. Obviously, in my mind I generally see myself as being capable of being victorious and see these adventures as better than coin flip odds but that is because I have to believe not only in myself, but that I can gain strength from the experience. I know myself pretty well and know I don't give up easily.

I also have discovered that when you divorce yourself from the outcome of these activities, you are learning to trust partially in yourself and partially to trust in God's strength no matter what the outcome. This feeling of being forced to trust brings out a very powerful strength in myself which I also accept does not totally belong to me, that it is being rented from God.

This sense, this feeling, that washes over me in times like this not only justifies my trust mechanisms, it makes me addicted to being as minimalist as possible. For instance, for years, when I can find time to head for the woods during deer season, I have hunted only with a model 1894 Winchester lever action .30-.30 with only iron sights, no scope. My hunting timber is very brushy and a poorly thought out shot can result in my killing a tree branch and the deer going on his/her merry way. I like setting it up where the deer have a reasonable chance to "win." When the possibility of failure is real, there is an accompanying expanding of the senses, a heightening of awarness, that is cleansing, raw, and, yes, addictive.

Therein lies another mystery. Although I have had plenty of sorrow in my own life, there are times that I feel my faith is not always challenged to the limits; that there sometimes is too much comfort in the ordinary days in my life, which makes it hard to reach that state of "super-awareness." I am aware in those moments that God resides not in my comfort, but in my discomfort. I find myself sometimes longing in my prayer time for that same sense I can get in the woods; that sense where I can see the details of every leaf, feel every puff of breeze, hear every little moving thing out there with me. My hunting timber can be very brushy in the summer; I call it "when the green curtain goes up." I know that ground well, but there are still times that deep in the woods, I can get a little turned around. Oddly enough, I kind of like that sense of that small moment of panic, that "Where the hell am I, exactly?" thought, and the ensuing, "Ok, let me think about this a minute," moments.

I think. "Ok, now I can't get all that lost, if I just walk in one direction, I'll come out somewhere...but I want to come out in the best somewhere I'm capable of handling." Then I cautiously make my way out, trying to recognize familiar landmarks. That is the place I want to be able to take my prayer life, because I truly believe that only by allowing myself to wander in so far that I can feel myself as lost, and slowly pick my way out, is a way that I can truly become closer to God.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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