Temperatures dropped below twenty degrees overnight and I awoke to discover a frosty face - my own. Raking miniature icicles from my moustache and beard I unzipped the tent flap and looked out on the high mountain meadow. It had snowed overnight and a buck deer turned to gaze placidly at me before bounding from view.
Stretching my stiff muscles, I made my way to the fire pit and stoked the nearly dead fire, waiting for one of the snow covered logs to burst into flame. It wasn’t long before others made their way to the fire pit. Rather strong coffee was brewed in a battered pot placed on the coals.
To exercise a bit of warmth to my extremities I gathered a few potatoes and my pocket knife and began to skin the spuds, then cut them into bite size chunks, others soon joined me. Onions were diced and the mixture was placed in an oversized frying pan. Another pan sent the smell of bacon wafting into the crisp mountain air. Eggs were scrambled and soon everyone in the camp was consuming a breakfast that was much larger and significantly better than those we could only scoff at in recollection. Normal conversation was relegated to grunts. Words only came when absolutely necessary and often seemed out of place in the midst of such glory.
As the day began to warm we loaded into an old 4x4 and rattled further up the mountain. We resorted to gnawing on jerky and spitting the shells of the sunflower seeds to either side of the little used mountain track in an effort to ignore the chill from our unique vantage point in the back of the truck. We were on our way to a beaver dam for a day of fishing. It didn’t matter that we had to stop and dig through a six foot snowdrift, we made it to the dam and had a great day of fishing and a veritable feast at the end of the day.
At night when the stars came out, we watched bats circling the fire pit some fifteen feet above the ground. The smoke from the campfire permeated every fiber of our clothing. Our eyes were swollen and red from the smoke, but there was no way we were backing away from the wondrous warmth of the blaze. More than one in our party suffered permanent damage to their boots due to the close proximity of feet to the fire.
We ‘suffered’ through roast beef and cherry cobbler courtesy of a Dutch oven. We crafted fine mountain furniture from stray bits of timber, a chain saw and a battery powered drill with screwdriver attachments - we slept very well.
This was all so foreign to our everyday lives. One was a computer technician, another was a network engineer. Each had a job far removed from the great outdoors, yet combined we made a formidable team.
It wouldn’t last - we would all go our separate ways when the trip was over, but for a few days we were a unit. The life that was so daily was all but forgotten as we worked together to make a meal, clean fish, dig snow and peel spuds.
Our tent village would be packed up for another year and we’d all head back down the mountain to our real jobs. Our families would require that we take a long soak in a hot tub and would enforce a rather intense wrestling match with a razor.
Why do I remember these trips with such clarity? I suppose they have always served to remind me that Paul was wise when He said, “As our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others” (Romans 12:4,5 - NLT).
Each member of our camping expedition brought something to the team that was needed and we all needed the contributions of the others.
In our Christian walk we are in a war. During wartime there is no such thing as an unneeded soldier. “We want to work together…so you will be full of joy as you stand firm in your faith” (2 Corinthians 1:24b - NLT).
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