Today I returned from the first camping trip of the season. I go camping every chance I get from June through August and will even push it into September if the weather holds. It is my favorite form of outdoor recreation. I know that everyone has a different idea of camping, so I must clarify what I mean by my particular use of the word.
My kind of camping begins with packing the trunk with only the bare essentials. Next, it involves driving to a remote and rustic campground that does NOT have the modern convenience of flush toilets, sinks, or showers. For camping to qualify as camping, I have to sleep in a tent, cook outdoors, use an outhouse, and have plenty of time to hike to my heart’s content. Anything more civilized than that simply doesn’t qualify.
Camping feeds my soul because it strips away all the modern conveniences and complexities of life. It takes away all my responsibilities, and replaces them with the invitation not to do, but to be. To be awed by the immense beauty and variety of plants that make the earth so vibrantly green. To be thrilled by the sight of tiny little fishes swimming in the creek and a frog sunning himself on a stick. To be serenaded by a great horned owl chiming in with the birds when they usher in the sunrise long before the sparkles of light dance through the canopy of trees.
And then, after the fire burns down to mere coals, to walk with my camping partner to a clearing hoping to see some shooting stars. As we immersed ourselves fully in that moment, watching the night sky intently, I was reminded of a line in a children’s book by Jane Werner Watson — “The light you see shining left its star long, long years before you were born.”
I wondered aloud how it is that the God who created this vast universe could be mindful of us, two souls among seven billion. As we stood there in awe of these things, we spontaneously began to sing the worship song Amazing Love by Chris Tomlin. In that moment, we were re-created, just like we were in all the other moments that await those who step out of the rat race long enough to look around, to look up, and to look beyond what they can see to what they cannot see.
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:4